Man attempted to fly drone off Severn Bridge to take pictures, court told
A factory worker climbed a tower of the M48 Severn Bridge in an attempt to fly his drone from it, a court heard.
Alexandru Scutaru, 30, scaled the bridge despite a fear of heights and tried to launch his GoPro drone to take photographs of the surrounding area.
Bridge officials monitoring CCTV images of the structure, which connects England and Wales, saw Scutaru on the tower and contacted police.
Bristol Magistrates’ Court heard that both carriageways were closed for around 20 minutes, with more than 100 vehicles waiting to cross.
Scutaru noticed that traffic had stopped and quickly descended from the tower, breaking ligaments in his left foot by jumping down part of the way.
District Judge David Taylor told Scutaru, who lives in Northampton but is from Moldova, that he would have been facing an immediate prison sentence if he had used his drone.
“You caused a public nuisance by climbing a support tower of the Severn Crossing, causing the road to be closed,” the judge said.
“It is clear to me that this was a stupid and selfish act for your own personal gratification.
“It was motivated by your personal desire to obtain images for social media.”
The court heard Scutaru travelled to Bristol to fly his GoPro drone near the M48 Severn Bridge to take images of the area.
His drone would not take off and so the factory worker decided to climb the tower to see if he could launch it from there.
“You took extraordinary risks with your own safety and in doing so placed yourself high above the carriageway in a way that many people would be alarmed to see,” the judge said.
“This type of conduct needs to be deterred and punished.”
Scutaru, who has no previous convictions, admitted a charge of causing a public nuisance.
The judge made an order for Scutaru’s drone to be destroyed.
He imposed a community order and ordered that the defendant observe a curfew for 16 weeks.
Scutaru, who currently cannot work due to his foot injury, will pay £85 in prosecution costs and a £85 victim surcharge.
Prosecuting, Nicole Miebai said: “He had produced a large drone from his bag, he held the drone in an upright position, took out a camera phone and filmed himself.
“The tower prohibits public access and the defendant put himself at serious risk of falling.
“As the defendant descended the cable, he sustained an injury to his left ankle.”
Scutaru was arrested by officers and taken to Patchway police station in Bristol, where he admitted climbing the bridge.
“He said he enjoys views of the UK countryside,” Miss Miebai said.
“He puts his videos on Instagram for others to view.
“He said he suffered vertigo, he had little problem climbing up the cable but was frightened to come down.”
Representing Scutaru, Kate Sacof said her client had not thought about the consequences of climbing the bridge to fly his drone.
“He thought if he was higher up, it might take off but that wasn’t the case,” she told the court.
“He was alarmed to see that the traffic had stopped.
“He jumped the last bit down and broke his foot.”
She said there was no 999 call from members of the public and he had not been trying to distract traffic when he was on the structure.
Speaking outside court, Scutaru apologised to motorists kept waiting while the road was closed.
“I am so sorry, I didn’t want to be a problem,” he said.
“I made a mistake. I climbed the bridge to see a beautiful view.
“It was not for Instagram, it was for me.”
He said he hoped to buy a new drone to continue taking photographs, adding that he would not climb a bridge in the UK again.