Derbyshire man sentenced for flying drone over Chesterfield football match
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A man from Chesterfield, who flew a drone so low over a football stadium that a match had to be halted and the players taken off the pitch, has been fined more than £3,500 at court.
It was during the second half of Chesterfield Football Club’s National League playoff semi-final at the Technique Stadium when the drone was seen flying over and inside the ground.
The game, against Bromley Football Club on Sunday 7 May, was being broadcast live on BT Sport when it was halted by the match referee due to concerns for the safety of the players.
After being told about the drone being over the stadium, officers from our Drone Team launched their unit to find the remote pilot.
The drone team quickly found the remote pilot in a car park off Sheffield Road with what appeared to be a drone in his hand, that man was Lewis Franks.
The 27-year-old, of Allsops Place in Chesterfield, was in the car, he was arrested and later charged with flying above assemblies of people, flying beyond visual line of sight, failure to register as a drone operator, and failure to display operator ID on drone used by remote pilot.
Appearing at Chesterfield Justice Centre on Monday 19 June, he was given a £3,537 and given six penalty points on his driver’s licence after admitting driving without insurance.
PC Stephen Booth, from our Drones Team, led the investigation into the incident said: “Franks flew his drone just meters above the pitch at the Technique Stadium with no consideration at all for the safety of the players, match officials, and nearly 10,000 supporters in the stands.
“The sighting of such an unexpected flying object could’ve led to panic in the stands. Footage from Franks own device showed the drone had been over the stadium for a considerable amount of time before it was spotted, and the players were taken off the pitch by the referee. In that time, it was fortunate something far more serious didn’t happen such as Franks losing control and the drone hitting a player or flying off into the stands and injuring supporters.
“Being in control of a flying object such as a drone, is a big responsibility and it is a pilot’s duty to ensure they are fully in control and are operating it within the boundaries of the law, something Franks clearly wasn’t at the time.
“As a result of his actions, he is now having to deal with the consequences with this case also acting as a warning to anyone thinking they can fly their drone wherever and whenever they like. If you are going to do it, then it needs to be done safely and in accordance with the law or we will act and bring you to justice.”