Woman sues personal safety device provider after attack

Tara Cosoleto |

A personal safety device supplier and security firm are being sued after a woman was attacked.
A personal safety device supplier and security firm are being sued after a woman was attacked.

A Victorian woman who was violently assaulted by her ex-partner is suing the supplier of a personal safety device claiming her repeated calls for help were left unanswered.

The woman, who only wants to be known as Peta, says in court documents she obtained a security watch from Commsync Alert in August 2021 after several family violence incidents at the hands of her ex, Jason.

She was told the device would notify her nominated people as well as Queensland-based security provider Back2Base Monitoring if she was in distress.

The nominated people could call triple zero directly by pressing “five” on their keyboard, while the company had to notify Peta’s family violence service provider who would then call police if required.

About 11pm on October 17, 2021, Jason went to Peta’s house uninvited and assaulted her by taping her mouth and attempting to smother her with a pillow.

He also knelt on her throat and tried to hang a noose around her neck but she was able to fight him off.

The attack lasted for about five hours, with Peta pressing the alert on her watch three times and using the audio recording function to say, “please help me”.

Back2Base was allegedly notified each time and should have contacted the family violence support service or Victoria Police when Peta did not respond to their checks.

She was never directly spoken to because Jason gained possession of her phone.

In a statement of claim filed in the Victorian County Court in March, Peta said she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder and anxiety as a result of the attack.

She is seeking damages and costs from Commsync and Back2Base, alleging they failed to exercise reasonable care towards her.

Peta claims the two companies should have contacted police if they received the watch alerts and she was not responsive.

“I thought this thing was supposed to save my life, I thought I’d be safe,” Peta said.

“But the only way I stopped him from killing me was by sticking my finger in his eye when he was trying to smother me.”

Her lawyer Aki Munir, a senior associate of Arnold Thomas & Becker, claimed the watch gave her client a false sense of security.

“The failures associated with (the watch) resulted in dire consequences,” she said.

“Peta’s trauma was unnecessary and preventable.”

Gary Rushton, general manager of Back2Base, told AAP he could not comment on the case as it was before the Victorian County Court.

Moray & Agnew partner Jeremy Peck, who is representing Commsync in the proceedings, was also approached for comment.

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