herald

Friday 6 December 2019

'I'm Angry', says wife of scrambler victim as she backs bill to end menace

Anzhela Kotsinian at the bedside of her husband Ilabek Avetian
Anzhela Kotsinian at the bedside of her husband Ilabek Avetian

A woman whose husband suffered devastating head injuries when a scrambler motorbike ran over the couple in Dublin last year has supported proposed new laws for gardai to seize the bikes.

Ilabek Avetian (39) lost his left eye and sustained multiple fractures to his forehead, nasal bones and jaw last June when he was hit by a scrambler in Darndale Park.

He also suffered a severe brain injury and haemorrhage.

His wife Anzhela Kotsinian (44), who is from Armenia, was sunbathing with him when the accident happened.

Confiscate

Ms Kotsinian said she supports new laws proposed by Fianna Fail that would equip gardai with new powers to confiscate scramblers from people suspected of abusing them in communities and housing estates across the country.

"Scrambler bikes are a great problem for the Irish people - some think it's normal to buy a scrambler bike for children, but it's not normal," Ms Kotsinian said.

"How many people have problems every day because of scrambler bikes? People have been hurt, people have died

"My husband will never be the same.

"I support the seizing of the scrambler bikes to protect the public if someone is driving dangerously.

"I'm happy to support the bill. I'm waiting a long time to get any answer from the Government, but I haven't had one and I'm angry."

Fianna Fail TDs John Curran and John Lahart have called for new powers allowing gardai to seize motorbikes and quad bikes to stop communities being plagued by young people misusing them.

Mr Curran said urban areas are being used as playgrounds by youngsters on scramblers and quads because gardai consider it too dangerous to intervene and try to seize them while in use.

Under the Road Traffic (All Terrain Vehicle and Scrambler Motorcycle) Bill, it would be a traffic offence and a public order offence to abuse scramblers and quads in urban areas and housing estates.

Mr Curran said the issue has become worse in recent years.

"They are up and down streets in housing estates, riding along the canals, public parks and football pitches," he said.

"It's an issue I've been aware of in recent years, but in the past three years it has been a particularly significant problem. It's a feature to different degrees in every urban setting. It's not a Dublin-only problem."

He said this can be very distressing for parents and families living in these areas.

Helpless

"They've become a complete menace," said Mr Curran. "Numerous parents have told me they're afraid to let younger children out on to footpaths because of these.

"They are up and down the roads, mounting footpaths and driveways. People are afraid."

He said gardai find if difficult to intervene in such cases.

"When an incident occurs, gardai are helpless. They don't take off in a squad car and follow them, they can't follow in pursuit and therein lies the problem," said Mr Curran.

"We want to give gardai an opportunity to seize the bikes after the event."

The Department of Justice recently setup an interdepartmental group to look at the issue with officials at the Dep- artment of Transport.

However, the Government wants to oppose the introduction of new laws, saying current legislation is sufficient.

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