4 May 2023

Video shows e-scooter rider driving at nearly 100 km/h on highway during police chase

| Albert McKnight
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James Cole is chased by police while driving down Majura Parkway on an e-scooter last December. Photo: Screenshot.

An e-scooter rider fled from police along a highway in Canberra, nearly hitting 100 km/h, before speeding along a bike path at 80 km/h because he was late for work.

Body-worn camera footage screened to the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday (3 May) captured James Cole, who had drugs in his system at the time, flying down the side of Majura Parkway on his scooter at 94 km/h on 22 December 2022.

He refused to pull over for two police officers on motorcycles and they gave chase, continuing to pursue him as he turned off the highway and onto a bike path.

About six cyclists had to pull off the path as Cole continued to flee until he eventually fell off his scooter and was grabbed by the officers. He then told them he was sorry.

“I’m late, man. I got a final warning at work the other day and I don’t want to stuff it up,” he said.

“Please, it’s Christmas and that.”

One of the officers told him he had been driving like “an absolute madman”. The chase lasted for about three minutes until he was arrested.

Cole, who arrived about an hour late for his sentencing on Wednesday (3 May), at one stage appeared to fall asleep in the courtroom while his lawyer was speaking.

“He’s either intoxicated or he’s been using drugs today because he’s sitting in my court and he’s falling asleep,” Special Magistrate Sean Richter remarked.

Cole’s lawyer, Brandon Bodel from Andrew Byrnes Law Group, told the court his client had worked as a mechanic but had lost his job due to the incident as he was on his final warning.

He argued the 38-year-old had used the e-scooter as his “best form of transportation to work” and thought he had been abiding by the law.

“If he thought he was doing the right thing, he would have stopped,” Special Magistrate Richter remarked.

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Mr Bodel said his client’s mental health at the time was not in a good way, which had led to increased drug use and, when coupled with his job issues, he had panicked and made a split-second decision.

He said Cole had weighed the prospects of not keeping his job, which he enjoyed, and pulling over for the police.

Unfortunately, he said he didn’t have the rationality to do what he should have done that day.

man entering court

James Cole (left) speaks to his lawyer, Brandon Bodel, before his sentencing on Wednesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Special Magistrate Richter said it was common knowledge in the community that you couldn’t ride these types of scooters with alcohol or drugs in your system, “even the little orange ones and the purple ones that try and run me over all the time”.

He said “the potential for catastrophe was real” during the chase, not just for Cole but also for any other cyclist in his path.

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Cole pleaded guilty to and was convicted on seven charges, including failing to stop a motor vehicle for police, driving while disqualified, drug driving, driving in a bike lane and riding without a helmet.

He was sentenced to four months’ jail, suspended after serving one month and disqualified from driving for 13 months.

“As long as you are taking drugs, you will be involved in crime,” the special magistrate told him.

He will be released from custody in June 2023.

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I’m not denying this guys wrong doing in any way or questioning his punishment.

What I am questioning is why someone who wasn’t gainfully employed and driving a stolen car while on bail or good behavior orders is more likely to walk away with a slap on the wrist?

Great job by the Police!

Capital Retro10:48 am 05 May 23

I think it was a stunt. A police motorcyclist hasn’t been seen in Tuggers for years.

It went to trial, so clearly not a stunt.

Mr James Cole, bet that peanut will do it again! Good job by the police

@Zed SS. I guess the police could have taken his registration number and followed it up at a later date. Oh, that’s right, they don’t have registration plates on e-scooters.

Its weird how the police always terminate a chase because a collision, but every video they want to go and play hero, putting the public at risk.
Surely there are now enough traffic cameras this guy was caught on one of those and they could find out who was. Several times they could have both blocked the path, but they seemed to egg him on.

“Surely there are now enough traffic cameras this guy was caught on one of those and they could find out who was”

What traffic cameras? How do you propose they could have identified an individual dressed in black on an unidentified scooter?

As for “could have both blocked the path” – what? and knock him off the scooter at 100kph?

Perhaps the two motor cycle cops could have handled it differently (I’m sure the investigation will illicit that), but I think your stance is an opportunity for you to have a rant at the police.

Peanut award goes to this comment!

From the “AFP National Guideline on urgent duty driving and pursuits (ACT Policing)”:
1.6 Policy on operational police driving

There are inherent and serious safety risks associated with police
officers driving in contravention of road transport legislation in the execution of their duties, attempts to intercept and apprehend drivers who flee from police. The sworn duty of a police officer to protect life will always have primacy over the need to apprehend offenders, irrespective of the offence that has been committed or the purpose of the interception.

It is preferable to consider other avenues of identifying and/or apprehending fleeing drivers prior to engaging in a pursuit. The primary consideration of police officers engaging in the interception or pursuit of a vehicle must be the safety of the public, bystanders and other road users not involved with the incident, the police officers involved in the incident and the occupants of the vehicle being intercepted and/or pursued. This outlook adopts the philosophy of zero harm: an aspiration to reduce the frequency and severity of mental and physical injuries in and caused by the workplace.

Ross of Canberra7:25 pm 04 May 23

Many laws are written to constrain the public from hazardous behaviours, especially those behaviours contributing towards risk to the general public. I make no plea for Mr Cole. It is, however, solely the police who involved themselves in behaviour more/most likely to put the public at risk. The police ought not have entered pedestrian zones and bicycle paths on high-powered road motorcycles. The majority of madness is theirs. The majority of stupidity remains that of Mr Cole. I noticed, also, that Mr cole did not ‘fall off’ his scooter but was pushed off by police. Can we aim for reporting that more closely aligns with truth? Lastly, is the Magistrate’s announcement of her experiences with purple and orange sccoters in any way relevant? Let’s be squeaky-clean when we define and punish offenders.

Yep, they should have forced him onto the grass long before he got to the cycleway since it was quickly apparent he was not going to stop. The Police need to act swiftly and decisively with people who fail to stop because the longer the pursuit continues the greater the risk to the public.
BTW: any other path user would have had ample warning of the motorcycles approaching under lights and sirens, and certainly more than James gave any of them.

What about “driving” an unregistered vehicle, “driving” without compulsory third-party insurance?

Ross of Canberra7:28 pm 04 May 23

Neither are required for such a vehicle. Said vehicle was, however, being driven outide of its regulated guidelines.

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure any vehicle capable of those speeds would require registration if you’re going to use it on public roads.

Why the offence then of “driving in a bike lane”? As far as I knew, it wasn’t an offence to ride a bicycle, even a (legal) e-bike/e-scooter in the bike lane (isn’t that what they’re there for?).

Capital Retro12:06 pm 12 May 23

Because he was on a “vehicle”.

Then why doesn’t his vehicle need to be registered?

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