Farmer sentenced after walker killed by cattle

Recent Safety Case – Farmer sentenced after walker killed by cattle

A farmer has received a 12 week prison sentence and fine after a walker was trampled to death by cattle in a field with a public footpath.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how, David Tinniswood and his wife were attacked by cattle whilst following a public right of way across Ivescar Farm at Chapel-Le–Dale in Carnforth. 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the couple were walking on a footpath that passed through the yard at Ivescar Farm, following a right of way that runs from the farm down to the road. They were accompanied by two border terriers.

The couple were attacked by cattle that were grazing in the field with calves at foot. The 83-year-old man was trampled and pronounced dead at the scene and his wife sustained serious injuries. 

The outcome

 Christopher Paul Sharpe of Ivescar Farm, Chapel le Dale, Carnforth, Lancashire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (2) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He received a prison sentence of 12 weeks, suspended for 12 months, and was fined a total of £878 and was ordered to pay £7820.30 in costs. 

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Julian Franklin said: “A number of measures could have been taken to safeguard walkers using the path, while cattle and calves were grazing in that field. 

“Firstly, not using that field for cattle and calves. Most farmers will have other groups of stock that can graze fields containing rights of way, so can reduce the risk of incidents by putting sheep in them, or they could take fodder crops from them. Cattle with calves can be put in fields without rights of way, away from members of the public, or can be segregated from walkers. 

“Farmers should ensure they take all reasonably practicable precautions to protect walkers on public rights of way, especially when they are grazing cows and calves together, or bulls are present.” 

Our thoughts

Whilst we agree that farmers should take all reasonably practical precautions to protect walkers on public rights of way, if the public are going to walk through a field of cattle, they should exercise caution and accept the’ve taken some voluntary risk. Walking through the countryside itself is not without risk – would we hold landowners accountable for a branch falling on a member of the public in high wind?

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