Wing Commander Nicholas Gatonby has given evidence at Mold Crown Court concerning the case John Arthur Jones, 66 from Anglesey in North Wales. Mr Jones stands accused of 13 counts of endangering Royal Air Force training aircraft landing at RAF Valley and its satellite base RAF Mona during a ten month period by shining lights in to their cockpits. Mr Jones has denied the accusations.
Wing Commander Gatonby, who was the commanding officer of No.208 Squadron based at RAF Valley during the period in question, told the court of one such incident in December 2013 which Mr Jones is accused of being involved. Gatonby and a student pilot were conducting a night time landing at nearby RAF Mona.
There was a very bright light shining from the ground on to the aircraft…it destroyed our night vision completely.
Gatonby and his student aborted the landing and went around again before making a second attempt. The bright light once again illuminated the aircraft making landing impossible forcing them to return to RAF Valley.
The prosecution have accused Mr Jones of keeping detailed notes on RAF activity to both complain against the activity and then, more sinisterly, use it to predict when an aircraft was most likely to fly over so he could set up his light in order to shine it in to the cockpits. The prosecution claim that he become obsessed with the air activity to the point where he had a total disregard for the safety of the pilots.