Man Pleads Not Guilty To Flyin...


Man Pleads Not Guilty To Flying Drone Near Dublin Airport

Laura Donnelly
Laura Donnelly

05:23 15 Sep 2023

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A man has pleaded not guilty to flying a drone which allegedly interfered with the operation of Dublin Airport and will face trial before a judge and jury.

Eric Brills, 50, of Holywell Dale, Swords, was arrested in February and charged under section three of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1975, as substituted by section 51 of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1988.

It is alleged that on January 24, at Naul Road, Cloghran, Co Dublin, he unlawfully and intentionally interfered with the operation of air navigation facilities at Dublin Airport by operating a drone in the 300-metre critical area, such act being likely to interfere with the safety of aircraft in

He was granted bail on February 10, provided he did not use drones. He had held off entering a plea to allow his lawyers more time to examine aviation exclusion zone laws and for disclosure of evidence.

Mr Brills faced his latest appearance at Dublin District Court today.

Detective Garda Enda Ledwith, who had described it as a "complex case", said the DPP consented to "summary disposal on a guilty plea" at the District Court level.

Solicitor Alexander Rafter said the defence had raised a matter on the last date that the DPP's direction was not valid.

But Mr Rafter added, "We are no longer pursuing that", and he said his client was pleading not guilty, meaning the accused will face trial in the Circuit Court, which has broader sentencing powers.

The DPP must prepare a book of evidence before a trial order is granted.

Judge Michele Finan remanded Mr Brills on continuing bail to appear again on October 27.

Under the legislation, the offence, on conviction on indictment, can result in a mandatory sentence.

At his first hearing, the court was told the accused made no reply to the charge. Detective Garda Ledwith said he had no objection to bail with conditions including one that Mr Brills must not "fly any UAS," which means unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones.

Mr Brills provided gardai with his phone number and has to be contactable at all times, reside at his current address, surrender his passport and not apply for other travel documents.

Legal aid was granted after the court heard the accused was employed but earned less than €500 weekly.

It is illegal to fly drones within 5 km of the airport; drones of certain sizes must be registered, and each device must have a unique digital fingerprint for identification.

Mr Brills' case is the first of two involving alleged unlawful drone flights too close to the airport to come before the courts recently.

In an unrelated prosecution, Ainis Guzauskus, 41, of Ridgewood Close, Swords, Dublin, was charged under Section 43 of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1988.

The alleged offence is knowingly causing a false alarm by flying an unmanned aerial system (drone) into the critical area of Dublin Airport at Naul Road, which interfered with the operation of an aerodrome on July 2, 2022. He has not indicated a plea and is back in court next week.

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