Cattle Trampling Tragedy Reveals Scale Of DeathsJanuary 6, 2017
They have a reputation for being docile and gentle animals, but new figures reveal that 18 people were killed in cattle-related incidents between 2000 and 2015.
The research was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the death of university professor Mike Porter in a west country field.
Mr Porter, 66, was walking on a public footpath through a field in Bradford on Avon with his brother, 73-year-old John Porter, when a herd of cows attacked them.
Mike Porter, a retired public health lecturer at Edinburgh University, was trampled to death, while John Porter survived despite suffering a catalogue of injuries.
The HSE was called in to investigate and discovered that 83-year-old farmer Brian Godwin had failed to put in place adequate safety measures on his land,
Swindon Crown Court heard there had been three previous serious incidents that had resulted in members of the public being injured by Godwin’s cattle.
Godwin, of Timothy Rise Farm, Winsley Rise, Limpley Stoke, was handed a 12-month jail sentence, which was suspended for two years, after admitting charges under the Health and Safety At Work Act. He must pay court costs totalling £30,000.
“Farmers and landowners have a legal duty to assess the risks from livestock to people using any rights of way on their land, and to take all reasonable precautions,” said HSE inspector Dawn Lawrence.
“Wherever possible farmers should avoid keeping cows with calves in fields with public footpaths. If that is impossible, and they need to keep cattle and walkers apart, temporary fencing is easy and cheap to provide.”
Mike Porter’s partner Adrienne Sillar added: “Our family and friends have spent the last three and a half years trying to turn the tragedy of Mike’s death into a positive outcome.
“While nothing will bring Mike back to us, we hope that this important case can serve to highlight the issues associated with the safety of the public using rights of way when livestock are present.
“Mike’s death was avoidable, and our hope is that no-one else should run the risk of injury or death when enjoying the countryside responsibly.”
It is understood that Godwin’s insurance company have paid out compensation totalling nearly £200,000 to victims of attacks by his cattle, which have been labelled Britain’s most dangerous herd by the press.
The HSE data reveals that most of the fatalities are when cows have calves with them or members of the public are walking dogs.
The victims in the Wiltshire incident, which happened in 2013, had two dogs, both on leads.
“This is a particularly sad case that underlines the need to have your wits about you, even when you’re just out for a simple leisurely stroll in the country with your family,” said Paul Henderson, a personal injury specialist at Mack Solicitors. “It’s extremely important to keep a look out for cattle, especially if they too are with their young.
“There always has to be a balance struck between the rights of farmers who, for many reasons, have a very difficult business to run, and those of countryside walkers.
“However, the majority of ramblers totally respect farmers’ land whenever they pass through it. It’s not, therefore, too much to expect farmers to take reasonable steps to avoid this type of tragedy.”
Rambling organisations advise walkers to avoid fields with cattle and calves in them if at all possible. If you are in a field where cattle seem to be becoming aggressive or wary, try to remain calm and move slowly away.
If you have a dog, they advise leaving go of its lead and allow it to run away from the cattle, rather than endangering yourself by trying to protect your pet.