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Gardaí who pursue children on scrambler bikes may be 'personally liable' if an accident occurs

Management has told officers ‘not to pursue’ these vehicles.

A seized scrambler bike.
A seized scrambler bike.
Image: Garda Press

GARDAÍ WHO GIVE chase to people using scrambler bikes could be held personally liable if the driver of the vehicle sustained injuries, TheJournal.ie has learned. 

There has been a considerable crackdown by gardaí on the use of these vehicles in recent months but a grey area in current legislation means that they have no authority over their use – unless they are being driven on public roads. 

There is serious concern for the safety of those who use the vehicles as well as for those who are in the vicinity of the bikes which are often driven by people with little to no experience of driving.

Currently, gardaí can only intervene when the bikes are being driven erratically on public roads or footpaths.

Now it has emerged that gardaí have also been advised by management not to pursue people on these vehicles as doing so may lead to injury or accident. 

The biggest problem in relation to quad and scrambler bikes is the lack of legislation around them. Under the 1961 Road Traffic Act, a public road means a road which the road authority is responsible for maintaining.

However, it has emerged in recent weeks that gardaí who do intervene could be personally liable for civil action if the driver sustains injuries while being pursued by officers. 

Management have warned officers to stick to the law until new legislations is brought in as they will not be able to support officers who find themselves the subject of litigation.

Government at both national and local level have been developing a number of strategies to combat the misuse of the vehicles and the anti-social behaviour associated with them. 

Last year, 62 people were seriously injured in incidents relating to the vehicles. Residents in a number of communities have described how scrambler and quad bikes are becoming more common. 

Armenian man Ilabek Avetian suffered devastating injuries earlier this year after being struck by a scrambler while sunbathing with his wife in a park in Darndale on the city’s northside.

Avetian lost an eye and suffered brain injuries as a result of the crash, with the public coming together to raise €30,000 for him and his wife once his story came to light.

Avetian’s partner Angela told of the devastation the incident caused to Ilabek. 

She told the Sean O’Rourke Show on RTÉ Radio One: “My husband lived here for over five years and was working. All the time he told me about Ireland and that it is beautiful here.

“One month later – we decided to go to park and when we went to the park we were on the hill – we didn’t see him (the driver) because of light on my face. The motorbike ran over his face. At first I thought – Ilo – what happened – his face is all opened. His blood is on me. I saw the driver and I said what have you done – you killed the man – he looked at us and went.”

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