Warning ‘Colin Glen’-type scrambler tragedy could occur at Woodburn Forest

Graffiti which appeared at Woodburn Forest over the weekend. INLT-04-708-con
Graffiti which appeared at Woodburn Forest over the weekend. INLT-04-708-con

Graffiti warning of a fatal scrambler tragedy similar to that which killed mum-of-three Valerie Young at Colin Glen has appeared at Woodburn Forest.

On Saturday, officers posted a photo on the PSNI Larne Facebook page of a wall at the forest which had been covered in four-foot high graffiti.

The message urged NI Water, who own the land at Woodburn Forest, to “ban scramblers” and, referring to the young mum’s death, added: “rem. Colin Glen. Who’s next?”

Responding to the graffiti, the PSNI said that neighbourhood officers in Carrick are “actively looking for anyone who is illegally using an off road vehicle on the road or other public ground.”

They added: “Ideally we want educate riders and find a way to allow everyone to practice their hobby, safely and legally.

“The use of these vehicles is attracting a lot of attention and we are receiving quite a few complaints. It’s not about spoiling a young person’s fun or taking their bike.”

Confirming that the graffiti constituted criminal damage, the PSNI said they had contacted NI Water.

The officer also extended an invitation to meet with individuals to resolve the situation, adding: “My concern is the potential for injury to a vehicle rider or someone else using the area.”

The latest incident comes shortly after police posted several pictures of scrambler bikes which they had seized in the Larne and Carrick areas.

Police had previously warned scrambler drivers to “wise up” and stated that the use of mini motos, scramblers and pit bikes on public land, roads and footpaths, was “causing a lot of concern in the community.”

An NI Water spokesperson said that the firm had “erected earthen barriers at various access points” to ward against unauthorised vehicle access, vandalism and fly-tipping at Woodburn Forest.”

She continued: “NI Water does not wish to prevent members of the public from accessing the forest; however, our priority is to protect the catchment area and also to discourage those intent on using the area for unlawful activities. This may on occasion require that access be restricted.

“It is illegal to use scramblers or motorbikes in this area and NI Water would appeal to anyone using such vehicles to stop. We would ask members of the public who witness this activity to take note of the registration numbers and contact NI Water immediately through Waterline on 03457 440088. Where applicable, these can be passed on to the PSNI.”

The spokesperson added that the public could use “safe parking areas” off Woodburn Road, beside Lower Middle South reservoir, and in the vicinity of North Woodburn reservoir.

Responding to the latest incident, a police spokesperson said they were “working with partner agencies to reduce illegal scrambler use in and around the Carrickfergus area.”

He added: “Additional patrols have been carried out recently which has resulted in three scrambler motorcycles being seized and recovered.

“The issue of illegal scrambler use has always been of concern to the local community and has been brought into focus following recent reports of serious injury and death involving these vehicles.

“The Road Traffic (Northern Ireland ) Order 1995 states that these vehicles cannot be driven on a public road or upon any land in the open air, being land to which the public has or is permitted to have access.”