A YOUTH tried to 'bring down' a police helicopter with a laser as trouble erupted at a traveller site.

A police officer was punched and others pelted with bricks and stones as tensions escalated between police and the Johnson family at Cleeve Prior caravan site, near Evesham.

Ricky Johnson, aged 64, Julie Lamb, aged 40, Chance Gill (also known as Chance Johnson), aged 18, and a youth who cannot be named appeared at Worcester Crown Court on Friday to be sentenced for affray.

None of the four defendants shone the laser at the pilot but were involved in disorder which broke out after midnight on February 18 last year.

A charge of endangering an aircraft has since been quashed.

Sgt Nick Doyle was waiting near the caravan site to intercept a stolen car when a Silver Astra, not the stolen car, passed him at 'excessive speed' (over 80mph) before the driver turned off the lights and entered the site.

Daniel White, prosecuting, said Sgt Doyle followed the car inside and Gill was seen entering a caravan and climbing out through a back window.

Gill shouted that police had arrived but there was 'only one of them' and threatened to 'brick' the officer.

A car approached with its headlights on, sounding the horn in long blasts and a crowd gathered.

Sgt Doyle withdrew but could see Gill throwing stones. Some struck the officer's BMW as he reversed.

Eleven officers including firearms officers and a police helicopter arrived.

A youth shone a green laser at the helicopter, forcing the pilot to turn away and switch to thermal cameras while the youth threatened to headbutt officers.

Lamb, whose son had been put in the cage of a police van, punched one of the officers to the right hand side of his head and also left a scratch on the left hand side of his head.

"She was stamping with her feet and trying to knee officers as they restrained her" said Mr White.

Ricky Johnson was heard to say: "I've had enough, I'm going to sort this."

He returned in a Ford Ranger pick-up truck, driving at speed towards officers with wheels 'screeching', crashing through metal gates.

A firearms officer was so concerned he took out his firearm and released the safety catch Mr White told the court.

After Johnson and Lamb were arrested someone could be heard shouting 'bricks!' and some landed near an officer.

David Maunder, for Gill, said his client had matured significantly and had not been in trouble since his father was released from custody following a significant sentence.

"His father does not want him going down the same path as he did" said Mr Maunder.

Richard Hull, for Lamb, said she had been concerned for her son's welfare during the incident.

"She accepts her actions on the night were regrettable."

Harpreet Sandhu, for Ricky Johnson, described the incident as an 'aberration', referring to him as an 'elder statesman' and 'peacemaker' who had worked harmoniously and productively with the probation service and police on other occasions, particularly Sgt Doyle's predecessor, Sgt Stayte.

Mr Sandhu said Johnson had been dealing with one of the greatest tragedies of his life, the death of his son in a car crash on October 6.

Sarah Jenkins, for the youth, said her client had shown discipline in a fledgling boxing career and had matured since the incident.

Judge Nicolas Cartwright QC said Gill started the incident and then 'watched from a distance while an attempt was made to bring down a police helicopter'.

He added: "The whole thing having escalated out of control, a person within the group, none of you I accept, was shining a light at a helicopter pilot.

"The only possible reason for that would be to blind the pilot temporarily at least. Given this was a residential area, the risks are all too obvious.

"The response of the four of you and others on the site was quite appalling as I'm sure anyone who applies their mind to it would recognise."

Johnson received a 15 month prison sentence suspended for two years and was told to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity days.

Lamb received a 17 month prison sentence suspended for two years and must complete 170 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity days.

Gill received a 20 month prison sentence suspended for two years and must complete 200 hours of unpaid work and 15 rehabilitation activity days.

The youth must complete a youth rehabilitation activity requirement for 12 months and will be subject to supervision.

No criminal behaviour orders, which had been applied for, were issued in relation to any of the defendants. The judge said they were not appropriate.

They must each pay costs of £500 and a victim surcharge.