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Melon farmer jailed for electric fence killing

A WATERMELON grower who set up an electric network that killed a man in his field was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison yesterday for threatening public safety.

The Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court also ordered Zhang Gui, a Jiangxi Province native, to pay 247,000 yuan (US$36,151) compensation to the victim's family.

Zhang and his wife came to Shanghai's Fengxian District in February last year and rented a watermelon patch. Within two months they found watermelons were being stolen, the court heard.

Zhang then laid a network of wires in the field in May last year and warned neighbors it would be electrified.

Initially, he didn't connect the network to a power source, figuring his warning would act as a deterrent. But watermelons continued to be stolen, so he decided to plug in the network, the court heard.

From June last year, Zhang electrified the network from 9pm to 3am while he slept.

On the morning of July 8 last year, a young man was found to have died from an electric shock in Zhang's watermelon patch.

"I didn't think anybody would die from an electric shock even if someone did touch one of the wires because I installed leakage protection equipment," Zhang told the court.

The court ruled that the farmer's electric network threatened public safety and had caused the victim's death even though it was unintentional.


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