A Polish man who had his e-scooter seized by a garda and subsequently destroyed has been convicted of driving the vehicle without insurance.
At Ennis District Court, Judge Sandra Murphy convicted Michal Blwlus, aged 24, of not having insurance when riding his e-scooter on a footpath in Ennis, Co Clare, during the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.
Judge Murphy fined Mr Blwlus, a Polish national with an address of Collins Park, Kilrush Rd, Ennis, €200 but said that she wouldn’t impose a road ban because of the unique circumstances and mitigating factors in the case.
Judge Murphy stated: “Every single mechanically propelled vehicle is required to have insurance and cannot and should not be on the road unless it has insurance.”
Mr Blwlus had his €500 e-scooter destroyed after he could not afford the €1,200 release bill from a Garda compound following its seizure.
Billy Loughnane, for Mr Blwlus, told the court he finds it “very sad” that the e-scooter had to be destroyed “or that it was taken from him at all”.
Mr Loughnane stated that Mr Blwlus had been working as a hotel kitchen porter at the West County Hotel in Ennis when he was rendered unemployed by Covid-19.
Mr Loughnane stated that on March 24, 2020, Mr Blwlus was riding his e-scooter around Ennis in order to distribute CVs.
Sgt Louis Moloney told the court that Mr Blwlus was seen riding his e-scooter on Ennis’s Kilrush Rd by Garda Ken Butler.
Garda Butler cautioned Mr Blwlus that he required insurance and tax for the e-scooter and told him to carry it home.
A few minutes later, Garda Butler saw Mr Blwlus still riding the e-scooter on the footpath again and seized it from him.
Sgt Moloney told the court that gardaí don’t allow a driver drive a car away if there is no insurance “and this case was no different”.
Sgt Moloney stated that such a case “is a very topical issue at the moment and these vehicles are in a legal limbo…our hands are tied in relation to the enforcement of these vehicles. Legislation requires the driver to be insured.”
Mr Loughnane stated that when first stopped by Garda Butler, Mr Blwlus was 500m from his home and when stopped the second time was 20m from his home.
Mr Loughnane stated: “The garda told him to carry the e-scooter home. This is a heavy piece of equipment and he thought he could ride it home. The garda followed him and the e-scooter was seized 20m from his home.”
Mr Loughnane stated that Mr Blwlus didn’t understand that a daily rate applied at the compound and he couldn’t afford the release fee and the e-scooter was destroyed.
Mr Loughnane stated that it was not an easy decision for Mr Blwlus to plead guilty to the no-insurance charge “where it is not possible to get insurance for an e-scooter”.
Mr Loughnane told Judge Murphy: “Mr Blwlus sees people scooting around on these things all the time and he is wondering why he is the one in court over one and this is his third time in court for this.”
Mr Loughnane stated that Mr Blwlus has suffered sufficient loss “and I don’t think is it a case where a conviction is appropriate”.
He stated that Mr Blwlus “is an ambitious man, a good man, he has been in Ireland for six years and never caused anyone any trouble”.
Mr Loughnane said: “Working as a kitchen porter is not an easy job. You are at the lowest rung. He was prepared to start at the lowest rung and work his way up. He deserves a break."
Speaking after the case, Ms Blwlus stated that he wouldn’t be appealing the conviction.
Mr Blwlus stated that one person had offered to fundraise for a new e-scooter after hearing that it had been destroyed but he said ‘no’ as there are more deserving cases.
Mr Loughnane stated: “That is an indicator of the character of this man.”