Amputee thief loses suit against power company

A man who became victim of his own botched robbery attempt has lost his $1 million damages claim against Western Power.

A 33-year old man, Dale Austin, required both his legs amputated below the knee in June 2002 after he attempted to cut down power lines at the abandoned Boral mine in Toodyay.

Austin was engaged in thieving scrap metal from the mine, even trying to steal the live power lines that serviced the mine.

Austin was standing on a metal transformer box while he tried to cut the power lines, which he assumed had been disconnected, allowing 22,000 volts of electricity to pass through his body and legs. 

He was granted permission to sue Western Power as it was claimed they were negligent for failing to disconnect electricity or post signage about the live wires.

The Supreme Court in Western Australia has agreed with the District Court ruling passed down last year that Austin was not entitled to damages because his “criminal conduct” led him to be exposed to the electrical hazard.

Austin’s appeal was based on claims he believed that the mine was abandoned and it was permissible to remove scrap.

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