Nottingham

Premier League stadiums drone: Man in court

Drone generic Image copyright PA
Image caption Drones cannot be flown within 50m (164ft) of a building or structure and must not be flown within 150m (492ft) of a large gathering of people

A man alleged to have illegally flown a camera drone over packed football stadiums and London tourist attractions has appeared in court.

Nigel Wilson, 42, from Bingham, near Nottingham, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court accused of 17 breaches of the Air Navigation Order.

It is the first prosecution of its kind in England to follow a police-led investigation.

Mr Wilson admitted two counts, but will go on trial for the remaining 15.

Mr Wilson, of Rockingham Grove, admitted two counts of not maintaining visual, unaided contact with an unmanned surveillance aircraft to monitor its flight path.

They relate to incidents over the north bank of the River Thames on September 27 and during Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester on October 18.

'Injury fear'

He denied other charges of flying a "small unmanned surveillance aircraft" without permission during football matches at various grounds.

They included Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, Liverpool's Anfield ground as well as Nottingham Forest's City Ground, Derby County's iPro stadium and the King Power Stadium in Leicester.

The charges also claim he breached regulations by failing to maintain direct visual contact with the drone as he flew it near landmarks including Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster.

The majority of the offences are said to have happened in September last year.

Prosecutor Edward Aydin said: "These were extremely busy areas.

"The fear of the police and the Civil Aviation Authority is that it [the drone] is going to fall out of the sky and hit someone."

The Civil Aviation Authority successfully brought two similar cases to court in 2013 and 2014.

However, this is the first time someone has been prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service after a police operation.

Mr Wilson is due to appear at the same court on Friday so that a date for his trial can be set.

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