Denishar Woods remains in a critical condition after being electrocuted by a garden tap. Picture: 7 News
Denishar Woods remains in a critical condition after being electrocuted by a garden tap. Picture: 7 News

Girl shocked by tap has brain damage

DOCTORS have confirmed that Perth schoolgirl Denishar Woods sustained brain damage after being shocked by a tap.

Her mother now says she doesn't know if or when her 11-year-old daughter will wake up after the freak accident on Saturday - when Denishar was tragically electrocuted by the outdoor tap at her family's public housing property in Beldon.

And now a potential multimillion-dollar claim against the West Australian government looms, a prominent lawyer told AAP.

Denishar is in a critical condition at Princess Margaret Hospital after touching the tap and her mother Lacey Harrison, who was also jolted by the current when she pulled her daughter out of the electrified water, told reporters she couldn't explain how she feels.

"Doctors don't know how bad the damage is and couldn't say if or when Denishar will wake up," Ms Harrison told Perth Now.

"There's no words to explain what I feel. My girl's not my girl any more. I thought she was just going to wake up."

Lawyer John Hammond said the Department of Housing's responsibility to ensure the safety of public housing was clear.

"If the young girl dies, the mother and all the siblings who were present would have a claim against the state for nervous shock," Mr Hammond told AAP.

"If she survives with horrendous injuries, then as a minor, she will have a massive claim against the state as well. It would be a multimillion-dollar claim."

In addition to offering counselling, the state government should also agree to pay for all medical costs, which could be done without admitting liability, he said.

Denishar Woods suffered an electric shock after using a garden tap. Picture: 9 News
Denishar Woods suffered an electric shock after using a garden tap. Picture: 9 News

Ms Harrison told ABC that her daughter's organs reached 38C and she was on a cooling pad in hospital to try to limit the damage.

"There's no signs of whether or not she's going to pull through. They're just keeping her organs cool," Ms Harrison said.

Housing minister Peter Tinley told reporters on Monday responsibility for the incident would only be established once an investigation was complete.

Mr Hammond also said all public housing should be immediately checked in light of the incident.

Michael Bunko, a director at WA's electricity regulator, believes the tragedy was likely caused by a fault in the neutral conductor supplying power to the property.

An upstream "open circuit neutral" could be caused by corrosion, a loose connection and in some cases, poor workmanship, Mr Bunko said, and residual current devices would not protect against them.

Denishar Woods suffered an electric shock after using a garden tap. Picture: 9 News
Denishar Woods suffered an electric shock after using a garden tap. Picture: 9 News

"If you get a fault upstream, generally before the main switchboard where the electricity is coming in, the RCD can't see it and won't operate," he said. Mr Bunko said the girl likely suffered a shock up to 230 volts AC and anything above 50 volts AC was dangerous.

A spokesman for Mr Tinley said safety devices fitted to electrical systems at public housing properties were checked annually at inspections.

Mr Tinley said the family would be immediately accommodated elsewhere if they didn't want to remain at the property, where the power has been cut off to make it safe.

"If we have to put them in a hotel or a motel, then we'll do that," he said. "Clearly, they wouldn't have a lot of faith in the property. They won't be expected to move back into it."

He said he was not aware of the family's claims they had complained more than once about short-circuiting.

Mr Bunko said open circuit neutrals were less common in new houses because they had a lot of plastic pipework.

"If you do get electric shocks off taps or you notice that your lights are dimming for no good reason, then you need to report it to the network operator," he said.

 

- with AAP and Megan Palin

 

Denishar Woods suffered an electric shock after using a garden tap. Picture: 9 News
Denishar Woods suffered an electric shock after using a garden tap. Picture: 9 News


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