In Australia's first known case of murder due to "water rage," a dispute over a suburban man's water usage led to him being beaten to death in front of his home. According to police, 66-year-old Ken Proctor was watering the lawn in front of his home in Sydney on October 31 at approximately 5:30 p.m. when a passerby made a comment to him about wasting water. Proctor then turned his hose on the other man, who knocked him to the ground and began to punch and kick him. The attacker was tackled by two bystanders, including an off-duty policeman, and an ambulance came for Proctor. Proctor later died in the hospital after experiencing a massive heart attack.
Due to a severe, nearly eight-year drought, intensive water restrictions are in place across most of Australia. Nearly all states have banned garden sprinklers and the use of hoses on cars or sidewalks.
Sydney, in addition, prohibits leaving hoses or taps unattended except to filling pools, and permits are required for pools larger than 10,000 gallons. The use of fire hoses is prohibited for any use other than firefighting. Hand watering of lawns or gardens is only allowed on Wednesdays or Sundays before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
Because the incident that led to his death happened on a Wednesday, Proctor was actually complying with the city's water rules at the time.
The drought is Australia's worst in at least 100 years. Combined with over-extraction of water, the drought has caused the flows of the country's two largest southeast rivers, the Murray and Darling, to dwindle. More than three-quarters of New South Wales is experiencing a drought, and Victoria has announced that 100 percent of its farmland has been hit.
While a number of suburban disputes, arguments and calls to police have risen from water restrictions, Proctor's is believed to be the first death cause by such a water dispute.