Real estate agent who accidentally burned down multimillion-dollar home had once dated its owner: court docs

A real estate agent who accidentally burned down a multimillion-dollar home to the ground in one of Sydney, Australia’s most prestigious suburbs had previously been in a relationship with the owner, court documents have revealed.

Sydney realtor Julie Bundock was preparing for an open house of a four-bed home on the northern beaches when she noticed the current renters of the house had left some bedding on the deck to dry.

According to documents tendered to the New South Wales, Australia Supreme Court as part of a civil lawsuit brought by the owner and four tenants against her employer, Ms. Bundock removed the sheets and threw them in a downstairs room onto a shelf below a light, which she then switched on. About 20 minutes later a major fire broke out in the four-bedroom house on Riverview Road in Avalon Beach, believed to be caused by the shelf and bedding heating up and catching fire due to the wall-mounted light.

Sydney realtor Julie Bundock accidentally set a home on fire. Supplied

This week, Ms Bundock’s employer, Domain Residential Northern Beaches, was ordered to pay property owner Peter Alan Bush $486,712.89 USD in damages. Mr. Bush was planning to sell the property at the time of the open house.

Domain Residential Northern Beaches were also ordered to pay a combined $79,827.30 USD to four tenants who were renting the property at the time and lost almost all of their belongings.

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The orders came after the court found that while Ms. Bundock was not a party in the proceedings she had been “actively” responsible for negligently causing the fire – and that Domain as her employer had a duty of care to “render its services with due care and skill”.

Fresh court documents obtained by have now revealed Ms. Bundock had previously been in a relationship with Mr Bush.

The topic was discussed while Ms. Bundock was being cross-examined by Mr Bush’s lawyer Dominic Priestley SC, who asked the realtor about her actions after she realised the house was on fire.

Ms Bundock’s employer, Domain Residential Northern Beaches, was ordered to pay property owner Peter Alan Bush almost $500,000 in damages. LinkedIn

“You made some phone calls, did you?” he asked, to which she agreed.

“You rang Peter Bush?”

“Yes,” she responded.

“You knew him well. You’d known him for many years, correct?” he asked, to which she agreed again.

“You’d been in a relationship with him when you were younger, correct?”

“Correct,” she said.

“Were you still friends with him by this time 2019?”

“Yes,” she replied.

There is no suggestion Ms. Bundock acted with malicious intent when she accidentally caused the fire, and she is not accused of any criminal wrongdoing.

The court documents also revealed how Ms Bundock’s employers – Domain Residential Northern Beaches – attempted to argue the four tenants renting the property at the time were to blame for the fire as they had left the home “untidy” ahead of the open house.

The defence stated the tenants; “failed to adequately tidy up the premises by leaving items throughout the premises” which forced Ms Bundock to remove the bedding from the deck.

During her cross-examination, Ms Bundock told the court the house was “particularly messy” on the day and refuted the claim that she was “rushing” ahead of the open house.

“I was making the property presentable for sale. I was not in a hurry,” she told the court.

“I was moving through doing my job which I normally do every Saturday of which I’ve done for the last 25 years. I was moving and doing what I needed to do in the time that I had it. I’m very methodical.”

Mr Bush was planning to sell the property at the time of the open house. Peter Bush/Facebook

In his judgment handed down on Tuesday, Equity Justice David Hammerschlag noted Ms. Bundock as an “aggressive and uncooperative witness” whose evidence was “clearly colored by a heightened awareness that she had caused the catastrophe”.

The court documents show that at one point, Justice Hammerschlag sternly reminded Ms. Bundock of her job as a witness after she labeled the cross-examination questions “ridiculous”.

“Your function here is to listen to the questions and answer them. That is your function,” he told her to which she replied “Okay.”

“You don’t have a function to debate anything with me,” he then said.

“Okay,” she replied.

“Do we understand each other?” Justice Hammerschlag asked her.

“Yes,” she replied.

At another point, Ms Handock accused Mr Bush of calling her a liar after he suggested she had been previously been aware of the light which caused the fire.

“So you’re calling me a liar?” she asked.

“I have never seen that light fitting before I had no idea where the light fitting was in the room.”

The court documents also revealed one of the renter’s dogs was in the home at the time of the fire, however, Ms Handock was able to remove it from the property.

In a statement to, the four tenants said they were happy to put the incident behind them.

“We are just glad that we are getting compensated for what we lost. Five years on and this is a huge weight off our shoulders. The truth always wins,” the statement said.

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