Western Power worker fined $6000 over 2015 electrocution of Mandurah boy

Police attend the scene where a 15-year-old boy suffered an electric shock on March 16, 2015.
Police attend the scene where a 15-year-old boy suffered an electric shock on March 16, 2015.

A MAN with more than 27 years of electrical experience was fined $6000 today over the 2015 electrocution of a 15-year-old Mandurah boy.

Malcolm John Cooper (47) pleaded guilty in Mandurah Magistrates Court to conducting electrical installation work that was not in accordance with SAA wiring rules.

On March 16, 2015, Tariq Rowles (who was 15 at the time) was walking to school with two friends when he touched a re-energised streetlight.

He had to be resuscitated at Peel Health Campus and spent time in a coma at Princess Margaret Hospital.

A 15-year-old girl who was with him at the time also received a smaller shock, but was released from hospital soon after.

An EnergySafety report found Cooper was responsible for re-energising the light.

A prosecutor for the Department of Commerce told the court that on October 17, 2014, a car hit a streetlight on Education Drive in Greenfields.

The light fell to the ground and two Western Power workers attended on the same day to ensure there was no power supply to the light.

On November 18, 2014, Cooper, who was employed as a project network officer, was working the switchboard when the traffic lights on Education Drive stopped working.

Cooper started electrical work, which fixed the traffic lights, but in the process restored power to the fallen streetlight.

The prosecutor told the court Cooper’s failure to inspect his electrical work created a potentially life-threatening situation.

More than 240 volts were running through the streetlight when Mr Rowles climbed a metallic fence while taking a short cut to school and touched the pole.

The prosecutor told the court that all shocks, even minor, could cause death and injury.

“Surviving is a matter of luck,” she said.

“A more vulnerable person may have been killed.”

Counsel for the accused said Cooper had worked for Western Power for six years without incident and called the incident “unfortunate”.

He said Cooper should not have tried to fix the issue with the traffic lights, but he felt that it would have taken too much time for someone else to do it.

“He felt it was the right thing to do,” counsel said.

“If he’d performed the proper procedures the incident wouldn’t have happened.”

Counsel said Cooper was under significant pressure managing 50 other electrical jobs at the time, while his father battled a life-threatening illness.

“The consequences could have been catastrophic, but the victim doesn’t seem to have suffered permanent damage,” counsel said.

He said the streetlight responsible for the electrocution was still broken.

Magistrate Anne Longden said Mr Rowles injuries were as a direct consequence of Cooper’s failure to do work properly.

“The community needs confidence that electrical work will be done properly,” she said.

Cooper was fined $6000 – the maximum penalty for the offence is $50,000 – and ordered to pay costs of $867.50.