Adelaide electrician convicted of diverting energy for hashish crop has registration cancellation overturned

An electrician who illegally diverted electricity from the grid to grow cannabis at his southern Adelaide home will keep his operating license, after a tribunal overturned a decision to cancel it.

Key points:

  • Ryan Curran spent two years on home detention for growing cannabis and illegally diverting electricity
  • His electrician’s registration was canceled after he applied to be a building contractor
  • A tribunal said his crime of diverting electricity was not one only limited to electricians

Ryan Curran, 35, of Seaford, pleaded guilty in 2017 to cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis and diversion of electricity without authority.

He was found and served a sentence of two years and one month on home detention.

In May 2020, he applied for a building contractor’s license, which required a police check.

After seeing Curran’s criminal history, the commissioner for consumer affairs canceled his electrician’s registration and contractor’s license in August 2021.

The commissioner found Curran was not a fit and proper person to hold one, in part because he had failed to flag his offense when he renewed his registration.

Curran sought to overturn the commissioner’s decision in the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT), arguing the failure was not deliberate.

SACAT member Alex Reilly agreed in a decision published yesterday, accepting Curran’s evidence that his partner was responsible for his online registration renewal, and she had ticked the box confirming he had not been charged with criminal offenses.

“In considering whether the offense of diverting electricity carries any particular significance in the assessment of fitness and propriety, it is important to recognize that the whole cultivation operation was illegal, and completely out of the context of the applicant’s business as an electrician,” he said.

“As counsel for the applicant submitted, diversion of electricity is an essential part of the crime of cultivating cannabis, and it is very common for the offenses of cultivation and diversion of electricity to be prosecuted together, and not just when the accused person is an electricians.”

The electrician grew cannabis at his home in Adelaide’s south.(File: ACT Policing)

Breaking rules only at home a mitigating factor

Professor Reilly said Curran had a good record as an electrician up until the cancellation of his licence, and two complaints registered against him had been resolved without further action.

He disagreed with the commissioner for consumer affairs’ submission that it was “highly concerning” that Curran was willing to permit unsafe electrical work in his own home.

“In my view, the fact that the breach of the Wiring Rules was only in the applicant’s own home is a mitigating factor on the seriousness of this offense in relation to its impact on his licensing,” he wrote.

“It would seem far worse for Mr Curran to place others at risk outside his home.”

The tribunal set aside the commissioner’s decision to cancel Curran’s electrical contractor’s license and his electrical worker’s registration.

It ruled there should be no conditions placed on the registration or license, in recognition of the fact there had been no official complaints about Curran’s work, and he had been without his license for five and a half months.

Posted 48m ago48 minutes agoThu 23 Jun 2022 at 8:05am, updated 35m ago35 minutes agoThu 23 Jun 2022 at 8:18am