Warning over USB chargers after woman dies from apparent electrocution

The chargers have been linked to the death of a woman.

The chargers have been linked to the death of a woman.

A mobile phone business faces prosecution over the death of a woman electrocuted by a faulty USB phone charger at her home on the NSW central coast.

Mother-of-two Sheryl Anne Aldeguer was found dead while wearing headphones inside an East Gosford home with burns on her ears and chest after a faulty charger sent a high voltage through her body, according to Fair Trading NSW.

A Filipino national, Ms Aldeguer was found dead by friends on April 23.

It is believed a dodgy $4.95 phone charger sent a high-voltage electrical pulse into her phone, which transferred to the earphones she had connected to a laptop.

The 28-year-old, from the Philippines, was to start work as a theatre nurse at Gosford Hospital within days of her death.

Sheryl Aldeguer was a married mother of two. Photo: Facebook

Sheryl Aldeguer was a married mother of two. Photo: Facebook

She had spent six months in Melbourne converting her nursing training to Australian standards and she had hoped her young family would join her within months.

Fair Trading NSW’s Lynelle Collins said Ms Aldeguer, who was in Australia on a working visa, was talking on the phone which was plugged into a wall socket at the time.

“The voltage seems to travel up through the faulty charger into her phone and she was wearing earplugs and also operating a laptop which was also plugged into a power point,” Ms Collins said.

“So the (electricity) travelled back down through the earphones to the laptop and into the power point,” she said.

“Two-hundred-and-forty volts (then) travelled up into the phone which obviously the phone isn’t designed to handle.

“Bodies are very good conductors of electricity so it’s travelled through her body.” 

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said the owners of the Campsie business which sold her the non-complaint charger could face fines of up to $875,000 and a two-year custodial sentence.

More of the chargers seized from the stall  in Campsie.

More of the chargers seized from the stall in Campsie.

"We will ceratinly be further investigating an outlet which we have detected have supplied theses types of non-complaint articles (chargers) with a view to prosecution," Mr Stowe said.

The registered business had a shopfront and a stall out the front - both of which were shut down - and hundreds of dodgy and non-complaint USB chargers were seized.

Friends of the deceased woman told police they believed she had bought the charger from the mobile accessory outlet in Sydney, prompting Fair Trading officers to raid the business last week.

“All the products have been removed. We went out there as soon as possible when we were notified,” Ms Collins said.

Fair Trading NSW said it had been at least five years since a death involving a faulty electrical item.

Mr Stowe said a number of USB-style chargers, travel adaptors and power boards that did not meet Australian safety standards had been removed from sale at a mobile phone accessory stall.

He said authorities were not aware until now of the large number of the cheap chargers that were available for sale in NSW.

"This is the first time we've been aware of them in large numbers," he said.

While this was so far the only known fatality potentially associated with the devices, Mr Stowe was concerned that the public be informed as soon as possible to avoid further deaths.

"We're only familiar with this one incident and it does look like one of these devices are implicated in the electrocution," he said.

smh.com.au

Do you know more? Do you own a USB charger without an approval sticker? Email cos@illawarramercury.com.au or 4221 2207

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop