Man charged with flying drone at Dublin Airport seeks advice on ‘exclusionary zones’

Eric Brills (50) had his case further adjourned at Dublin District Court today.

Eric Brills

Andrew Phelan

A man charged with flying a drone into a critical area near Dublin airport is to seek legal advice on “exclusionary zones” before deciding on a plea.

Eric Brills (50), who allegedly interfered with operations at the airport in an incident in January, had his case further adjourned at Dublin District Court today.

It is alleged that on January 24, at Naul Road, Cloghran, Co Dublin, Mr Brills 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 flight.

The offence is under the Air Navigation and Transport Act and Mr Brills, of Holywell Dale, Swords, has not yet indicated how he intends to plead.

Today was his third court appearance since he was arrested and charged.

The DPP has directed that the case can only remain in the district court if the accused is pleading guilty.

If he contests the charge, he will be sent forward to the circuit court for trial.

Defence solicitor Donal Quigley said today it was a “very unusual charge” and asked the court to extend free legal aid to cover a barrister.

He wanted to seek advice from counsel, saying there was a particular issue in relation to “exclusionary zones” which he needed to clarify.

Judge Ciaran Liddy granted the extension of legal aid and adjourned the case to June 23.

On the first court date, Det Gda Enda Ledwith said the accused made no reply to the charge after caution.

Bail was granted with no garda objection subject to conditions. Under the terms, Mr Brills must not operate any drones. He was also to provide gardaí with his phone number and be contactable at all times, reside at his current address, surrender his passport to gardai and not apply for other travel documents.

Mr Brills was not required to sign on at a garda station.

The court had heard it was a "complex case".

The offence, on conviction on indictment in the circuit court carries a potential sentence of up to life imprisonment.

At district court level, the maximum penalty for any single charge is 12 months.

It is illegal to fly drones within 5km of the airport, and drones over a certain size must be registered.

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