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Irish backpacker who had scalp and ear torn off

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A VICTORIAN pear farm where an Irish backpacker had her scalp and ear torn off will have its sentence appealed by prosecutors, who called it “manifestly inadequate”.

Caroline Schelle
AAPFEBRUARY 14, 20185:25PM

Is there a dark side to Australia’s backpacker industry?

PROSECUTORS want a harsher penalty handed to a Victorian pear-packing company after a young Irish backpacker’s scalp and ear were torn off by a conveyor belt.

Kalafatis Packing Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe system of work and was fined $50,000 without conviction in January.

But the sentence was “manifestly inadequate”, according to Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Gavin Silbert QC, who lodged an appeal on Wednesday.

The young woman was scrubbing the underside of a conveyor belt on November 7, 2015, when her hair became tangled in a rotating drive shaft, a court had previously been told.

Her scalp was then torn from her head and one of her ears was ripped off.

The woman was hired by a company which specialised in providing backpacker labour to the fruit industry.

Irish backpacker Annie Dunne suffered a horrific injury working on a Victorian pear farm.

Irish backpacker Annie Dunne suffered a horrific injury working on a Victorian pear farm.Source:Supplied

In January, WorkSafe’s health and safety executive director Marnie Williams said the circumstances of the incident were appalling.

The court heard workers were required to clean the conveyors while they were energised and moving.

Annie Dunne was assessing the underside of a conveyor in order to scrub its surfaces when her hair became entangled in a rotating drive shaft and her scalp was torn from her head, WorkSafe says.

She also had one of her ears torn off.

“This truly was a shocking incident that has changed this young woman’s life in a split second,” Ms Williams says in a statement on Friday.

“It’s staggering that workers were expected to clean machines which were still in operation.”

She said the labour hire business engaged workers for the packing shed and left them exposed to risk of “serious injury and death”.

Ms Williams said there was a “blatant risk” of serious injury from entanglement, crushing or entrapment with both conveyors in the shed.

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