No conviction shocks Garrels family
MICHAEL Garrels' anguish over losing his son is matched only by his disappointment that a conviction wasn't recorded against the building company that employed him at the time of his death.
"It's just heartbreaking," Mr Garrels said outside the Mackay Court House yesterday.
Jason Garrels was nearing his 21st birthday when he was electrocuted on a Clermont building site on Monday, February 27, in 2012.
Daytona Trading Pty Ltd was fined $80,000 plus $9856.45 in court costs and no conviction was recorded.
The company had pleaded guilty to failing to discharge an electrical safety obligation in the Mackay Industrial Magistrates Court last week.
Jason had been assisting to remove a temporary sub switchboard, which hadn't been isolated from the power supply.
Defence lawyers for Daytona had argued the electrical work for the site had been sub contracted to another company, Cold Spark.
"Daytona relied on the expertise of the appropriately qualified electricians to perform electrical installations," as said in the agreed statement of facts.
"On this particular day Daytona did not receive an isolation form from Cold Spark," the court was told.
Cold Spark pleaded guilty to the same charge last year, was fined $90,000 and a conviction was not recorded.
It was admitted Daytona had failed to ensure its business was conducted in a way that was electrically safe, isolate the power supply to the temporary switchboard and provide adequate information, signage and personal protective equipment.
Daytona "quite simply... did not do enough" to ensure the safety of its employees, the court was told.
This was the company's first breach of the Workplace Health and Safety Act or the Electrical Safety Act in the 36 years it had been operating, the court was told.
Magistrate Damien Dwyer was handed five victim impact statements from Jason's parents Michael and Lee Garrels and siblings Gemma, Lachlan and Georgia.
"I have read them all and they are heartbreaking," Mr Dwyer said.
He agreed the fine should be less than that of Cold Spark, "but not by much".
"In their victim impact statement the family implore me to record convictions, it seems to be the most important part of this process for them," Mr Dwyer said.
"As much as I have great sympathy for this family and the needless tragedy that has happened to them... I exercise my discretion and order a conviction not be recorded."
Mr Garrels said he had been prepared for this outcome but it still hit the family hard and was all the more reason why the law should be changed.
"It's not over by a long way," he said.
The next step for the family is a coronial inquest into Jason's death.