Melton men in court accused of illegally flying drone near race course

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Two men from the Melton area have appeared in court accused of unlawfully flying a drone near a horse race meeting.

In the wake of the announcement of new laws governing the use of privately-owned drones, Simon Peters (33), of Lancers Drive, Melton, and Michael McCool (47), of Nottingham Road, Little Belvoir, faced magistrates in Essex yesterday (Wednesday).

The offence is said to have taken place at Chelmsford Race Course on April 1 this year.

They are each accused of one offence relating to the use of ‘a small unmanned surveillance aircraft’ - a DJI Matrice 200 Quadcopter - over or within 150 metres of a congested area, or within 50 metres of a vessel, vehicle or structure not in accordance with permission issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.

McCool is said to have caused or permitted the drone’s operation not in accordance with CAA permission and Peters is alleged to have been the remote pilot who flew the drone.

McCool is also accused of causing or permitting it to be flown for unauthorised commercial operations without a valid Permission for Commercial Operation and Peters is further charged with remotely flying it without that permit.

They appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates Court and both pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Their trial will be held before a district judge sitting at Chelmsford Magistrates Court at a date to be fixed.

The JPs were told that the case is likely to involve complex legal argument concerning the legal interpretation of the Air Navigation Order 2016 and that the trial will take several days.

Prosecutor Grace Court said: “It is an unusual case.”

Defence barrister Mark Trafford QC told magistrates: “There are novel issues of law as well as fact for the use of these drones.”

Both men were remanded on unconditional bail.