An Australian pear farm has dodged a serious conviction after an Irish backpacker had her scalp ripped from her skull by unsafe work machinery.

Kalafatis Packing Pty Ltd were given a A$50,000 fine (£28,000) in January after pleading guilty to not providing safe systems of work. But according to the prosecution, the penalty decided by the judge was "manifestly inadequate".

According to, the woman was cleaning the underside of a conveyor belt in November 2015 when her hair was caught by a rotating drive shaft. The tangled hair then ripped the woman's scalp from her head, along with one of her ears.

The Irish backpacker, Annie Dunne, was in the middle of a working holiday in Victoria.

WorkSafe health and safety executive director Marnie Williams labelled the working conditions as "appalling". Workers were even asked to clean the conveyor belt while it was still moving.

"This truly was a shocking incident that has changed this young woman's life in a split second," Williams said. "It's staggering that workers were expected to clean machines which were still in operation."

An appeal to the court's ruling was filed on Wednesday (14 February) by acting director of public prosecutions Gavin Silbert QC.

In a similar incident last year, an Australian women from New South Wales had her scalp torn from her head after her hair became tangled with electric motors in a sheep shearing shed. Casey Barnes, of Gilgandra, was helping her father and boyfriend in the shed when her hair was caught in the electric motors used to power the shearers.

She was flown to Sydney for 20 hours of surgery, reports She was put in an induced coma to limit her movements with doctors hoping the scalp would heal.

Unfortunately Barnes' scalp could not be reattached. Doctors are hopeful they can use artificial skin to replace what she has lost.