Saturday 18 September 2021

Council, landlord fined €180,000 for shower electrocution death



Boxtel town council, rental housing agency Camelot and Camelot’s technical service department have each been fined €60,000 for their role in the death of a young woman who was electrocuted in the shower of her home.

The woman’s death is directly attributable to the actions of the council and the landlord, the judge at Den Bosch district court said. The electricity supply in the property had been ‘visibly tampered with’ and should therefore have been checked by town hall officials. In addition, Camelot should have made sure the property was safe.

The house in Boxtel, North Brabant, where Janneke van Gaal died in January 2013, had frequent problems with the electricity supply and was described as ‘uninhabitable’ by a council official in an internal email.

Cannabis farm

The property on Koevoortsweg had previously been used as a cannabis farm, but both the landlord, Camelot, and the local authority, which owned the building, claimed to be unaware of the fact.

One of Van Gaal’s housemates, Akash Ragoenath, told the AD on the eve of the court hearing that he had experienced electric shocks in the shower a few weeks before the woman’s death. ‘I went into the shower with a sleepy head, turned on the tap and got two or three jolts,’ he said.

The court was told there was exposed wiring all over the house and three of the six circuits were unearthed. One official at the council commented in an internal mail before Van Gaal moved in: ‘Really, it’s uninhabitable.’

A fine is the maximum penalty which the court can hand down because no individuals were on trial.

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