Julie Bundock, an Australian real estate agent, accidentally burned down a home estimated to be worth $2 million while preparing for an open house in May 2019. The house, along with all of its contents, was completely destroyed, and Bundock’s employer was ordered by the court on Tuesday to pay restitution fees that total over $500,000.

As Bundock prepared for an open house at the four-bedroom home on Sydney’s northern beaches, she noticed some bedding the current renters had left out on the deck to dry. She picked it up and put it on a shelf below a light on the ground floor. She turned on the light and left the room. Twenty minutes later, a major fire broke out in the house, believed to have been started by the bedding that overheated under the wall-mounted light.

The owner of the property, Peter Alan Bush, found out that the fire was started by Bundock and took her and her employer, Domain Residential Northern Beaches, to court. He told Chief Judge in Equity Justice David Hammerschlag that Bundock said after the fire, “Oh my God Pete, I think I have burnt down your house.” She added–in front of other witnesses, including Bush’s partner Lynne Emanuel–“I had been doing some tidying up. I collected some sheets drying on the veranda and threw them on top of a freestanding metal shelving in the bedroom under the stairs. I just threw them there Pete, right up against the light on the wall. I think that’s what started the fire.”

After hearing these damning words, Judge Hammerschlag handed down judgment earlier this week, ruling that Bundock “actively created the risk of fire and the consequent harm.” He ordered Domain Residential Northern Beaches to pay Bush $483,736 for the loss of the house, and a combined $79,339 to the four renters who lost their possessions, Elise Coulter, Reggie Songaila, Lauren Coulter, and Ella Eagle. The judge also ordered Domain Residential Northern Beaches to pay interest on the combined $563,204 starting from the time of the fire in May 2019. 

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“That a fire might be caused by putting or throwing bedding up against a burning light is obvious. That risk was plainly foreseeable, and Bundock ought to have known this,” he stated, adding that Bundock’s aggressive and uncooperative attitude in court influenced his decision. “Her evidence was clearly colored by a heightened awareness that she had caused the catastrophe.”

Domain Residential Northern Beaches attempted to argue that Bush or the renters should have informed Bundock that the light was close to the shelf and nothing flammable should be put there. Judge Hammerschlag soundly rejected this statement, saying, “The submission is made in the context where none of the plaintiffs could have possibly or remotely conceived that Bundock might do what she did.” He added, “There was no occasion which could reasonably have called for the suggested disclosure. Bundock acted on her own motion. Her actions were the sole cause of the harm.”