On 10 June 2021, Ryan Lloyd Grossberg pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the Brisbane Magistrates Court in relation to five charges arising from unlicensed electrical work he contracted for and performed, which did not meet the required standards. He faced one charge pursuant to section 56(1) and two against 55(1) of the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (‘the Act’), in addition to two charges under section 71(1) of the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 (‘the Regulation’). His Honour Magistrate Mark Nolan imposed a fine of $16,000 and recorded a conviction.
The defendant conducted a business, trading as Everyday Air. He advertised on Facebook that the business provided services as a supplier and installer of air-conditioning units. Between 16 November 2018 and 6 January 2019, the defendant performed electrical work at residential properties in Regents Park and Victoria Point and received payment for doing so. He had never held an electrical contractor licence, authorising him to conduct a business performing of electrical work in Queensland.
During November 2018 and on 5 January 2019, the defendant attended those properties and performed electrical work in the form of the installation of an air-conditioning unit at each property. He had never held a licence authorising him to perform electrical work in Queensland. The electrical work performed by the defendant at those properties was subsequently inspected by Inspectors from the Electrical Safety Office (‘ESO’), who found that the installations did not comply with the requirements of Australian Standard 3000 – Electrical Installations (‘the wiring rules’) in a number of respects. The failures included a failure to ensure cables and conductors were free from undue mechanical stress, a failure to ensure conductors were adequately terminated, and a failure to ensure openings on isolation switches were properly glued or sealed to prevent the entry of water.
The defendant had been previously been convicted of like offending. In 2016, the defendant was convicted of offences of performing electrical work and contracting for electrical work without holding the appropriate licenses. The offending related to the installation of air conditioning units at three separate residential properties in 2014. On that occasion, the defendant was convicted and fined $10,000, and was subject to a two year court-ordered undertaking under the Act, with a $1,000 recognisance.
During October 2018, the ESO became aware that the defendant was again conducting a business that included the performance of electrical work. On 13 November 2018, the defendant was issued with an improvement notice which directed he not conduct a business or undertaking that included the performance of electrical work unless he was the holder of an electrical contractor licence.
In sentencing the defendant, Magistrate Nolan observed it was extraordinary he had engaged in this conduct after having been fined a few years prior for similar offending and having received an improvement notice from the ESO only weeks before the present offending.
His Honour acknowledged the dangers associated with electricity and that the defendant, by his conduct, had placed himself and others in danger. Not only was the defendant unlicensed to carry out the electrical work, but the work he carried out fell short of the standard required by the wiring rules. His Honour acknowledged that the requirements in the legislation were directed towards preventing electrical risks in places where people live and work.
In mitigation, his Honour took into account the defendant’s timely pleas of guilty and the various character references tendered for him. The learned Magistrate also had regard to a report provided by the defendant’s treating psychiatrist which outlined the defendant’s history of drug addiction and significant mental health issues, including a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. His Honour observed that the defendant knew what he was doing was wrong and had the state of mind and awareness to place and respond to advertisements regarding electrical work. Regard was had to the defendant’s improved personal circumstances in the previous 18 months, with the psychiatrist opining that, provided the defendant remained drug-free and compliant with treatment, his future would be much better.
Magistrate Nolan observed there was a need for personal deterrence, in addition to general deterrence to send a clear signal to the community that this behaviour will not be tolerated. His Honour noted the fine imposed would have been higher but for the material tendered relating to the improvements the defendant had made and his attempts to turn his life around.
In determining to record a conviction, consideration was given to the defendant’s previous offending and his disregard of the improvement notice issued.
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Charge 1: section 56(1) of the Electrical Safety Act 2002; Charges 2 and 4: section 55(1) of the Electrical Safety Act 2002; Charges 3 and 5: section 71(1) of the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013