A visitor who flew a drone near the TT course told a court today he didn’t realise doing so was illegal.

Alex Matthew Shrimpton was fined £3,000.

He was arrested on Wednesday (June 7) after reports of the drone flying above a field next to Sulby Bridge.

After being arrested and spending the night in custody, the 23-year-old engineer appeared before magistrates on Thursday morning.

Shrimpton, of Rayford Close, Dartford, Kent, pleaded guilty to a charge of being the remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft which was flown within 1,000 metres of the Isle of Man TT course.

Magistrates ordered him to pay the fine, and prosecution costs of £125, immediately or face up to 180 days in jail in default of payment.

Prosecuting advocate Barry Swain told the court that, at 2.20pm on June 7, TT race control received reports of a drone flying close to Sulby Bridge while a race was taking place.

Police went to the scene at 2.30pm and a spectator pointed out Shrimpton as the person who had been using the drone.

He was found in possession of the small drone which he had been operating via his mobile phone.

During an interview, he admitted to officers that he had been flying the drone and using it to take a photo.

He said that he had not seen any signs prohibiting it so he did not realise it was illegal.

However, Mr Swain pointed out that the regulations regarding drones are published on the Isle of Man Government’s website.

‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse or any defence,’ said the prosecutor.

Mr Swain submitted an application for forfeiture and destruction of the drone.

Shrimpton was represented by defence advocate Winston Taylor, who said that his client had brought the drone to the island with no particular intentions for its use.

The advocate reiterated that Shrimpton had not been aware of the restrictions on drones and said that he would not have used it if he had known.

Mr Taylor produced the photo that was taken, which he said showed that the drone was not actually on or near to the course.

The advocate said that not many people who went on holiday would look at the laws of the land to which they were visiting, but added that Shrimpton accepted this was not a defence and that he had broken the law.

Mr Taylor went on to ask for credit to be given for his client’s guilty plea and co-operation with the police, and asked that, if the drone was going to be forfeited, if Shrimpton could have the memory card and battery returned to him, as the card contained pictures of other places he had visited.

However, magistrates made the order for forfeiture and destruction of the drone, memory card and battery.

Magistrates’ chair Julie Maddrell told Shrimpton: ‘We noted you do not have a record so being down in the cells must have been something of a shock.

‘Airports have been closed down because drones have flown too near them.

‘With every drone comes a responsibility.

‘We have to send a very firm message that we want a safe TT.’

Our court reporter filed a story about this case earlier. Read that here.