On 16 March 2022, a worker was sentenced in the Cleveland Magistrates Court for breaching the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (“the Act”) by failing to comply with his electrical safety duties as a worker pursuant to section 39 of the Act, and performing electrical work without holding an electrical work licence. He was charged with two Category 2 (section 40C) offences, one Category 3 (section 40D) offence and eight offences against section 55. A global fine of $50,000 was imposed by way of penalty. No conviction was recorded.
Magistrate Sarra observed the defendant had conducted his work in a manner contradictory to the spirit of the Electrical Safety legislation, which was there to protect consumers from electrical discharges. His Honour emphasised the need for the defendant to have conducted himself professionally and to have a healthy respect for electricity, as taking shortcuts can have fatal consequences. Consumers relying on the defendant’s expertise were entitled to be confident that the work they required would be performed properly. The seriousness of the defendant’s conduct was aggravated by the fact that the defendant continued to operate despite the involvement of the ESO Licensing Committee.
His Honour had regard to the need for any sentence imposed to serve the purpose of general deterrence, noting the dangers associated with electricity, but observed there was a lesser need for specific deterrence in this case. The defendant otherwise had no criminal history, and had ultimately co-operated with the investigation, participating in multiple voluntary interviews, and making admissions. The plea of guilty by the defendant was timely.
In determining the appropriate penalty to impose, his Honour had regard to the defendant’s personal circumstances, including his having emigrated to Australia and his strained personal circumstances at the time of the offending, including his wife having been denied re-entry into Australia and one of his children having sustained serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident.
In fining the defendant $50,000, his Honour noted this sum was reached allowing $15,000 for each section 40C offence, $8,000 for the section 40D offence and $2,500 for each section 55 offence, before deducting $8,000 from the total sum on account of the penalties already imposed against the defendant arising from ESO disciplinary proceedings.
His Honour acknowledged that the nature of the offending by the defendant within the broader community was a matter that may have warranted the recording of a conviction. However, having regard to the defendant’s antecedents and the further adverse impact that the recording of a conviction would have on the defendant’s ability to pay the fines, his Honour exercised his discretion to not record a conviction.
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Sections 40C, 40D and 55 of the Electrical Safety Act 2002