By Patsy Beangstrom
Kimberley – “I am not a pervert, spying on people” . . . these are the words of the Kimberley man who has been testing out his multi-rotor (a remote-controlled helicopter), which he hopes to develop and market as a business venture, in a city park.
A Labram resident recently claimed that she was under attack in her own backyard from a neighbour, who she accused on spying on her and other residents with his remote-controlled helicopter, which she believed had a camera attached.
The owner of the helicopter, however, has painted a very different picture of the squabble which is threatening to go to court.
“I have done nothing wrong here. I am totally within my limits,” Charl McGregor, owner of a local hobby shop, said this weekend.
McGregor pointed out that he was currently testing the multi-rotor and had never flown it with a camera attached, although this is the ultimate objective of the machine.
“This is a new product, which I am currently testing from home. The aim is to develop and market it to people like farmers, quantity surveyors, mines and anyone who would essentially have to hire a helicopter to take aerial photographs.
McGregor said he had built the machine about two months ago and used the park close to his home to test it.
“This involves hovering and short flights. I wouldn’t for example fly it into someone’s garden because then I would lose sight of the machine and possibly crash it, which I don’t want to do because it is very expensive.”
He added that during the testing, he randomly flew the helicopter around the area. “I am certainly not flying it deliberately over certain people’s gardens to spy on them.”
McGregor said about a month ago, the complainant stopped her car at the park where he was flying the helicopter. “Without introducing herself, she started accusing me of spying on her and wanted to know who I was working for.”
He said he explained what he was doing and landed the helicopter to show her that there was no camera and she even took photographs.
“I then made a concerted effort not to fly in the direction of her house but in the opposite direction. However, one must remember that I have to fly above the houses and trees so it is quite high and if you look up you might think the machine is actually overhead when it is not.”
A few weeks later, the woman again stopped at the park and, according to McGregor, “ranted and raved”.
“Then she came into my shop and made a scene in front of all my customers and threatened she would be back. The next day (August 3), she came back with her husband and two police officers.
“It was obvious that the police didn’t quite know what to charge me with because I haven’t done anything wrong. If I was a spy, I wouldn’t be standing out in the open, in exactly the same place every day. All I am trying to do is test this machine and I am not going to stop because she is paranoid. I don’t know what she has to hide that she is so afraid someone might see.”
He also questioned whether the police would escort him if he had a problem with one of his neighbours. “Obviously these people are abusing their positions in the provincial government.”
The woman’s husband is a senior government official.
McGregor further pointed out that none of the other neighbours had ever complained. “Normally they come over when I am flying the helicopter and chat about what I am doing.”
The complainant indicated that she intended obtaining a court interdict, but McGregor retaliated that he would get a counter interdict to prevent her from harassing him and his family.