• Robert Spicer

Death on public footpath by trampling from cows:farmer given suspended sentence

Death and injury from cows: suspended sentence for farmer

Health and Safety Executive v Brian Godwin (2016) Swindon Crown Court, December 5

Statutory reference: s. 3 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 (HSWA).

Brian Godwin, a farmer, has been given a suspended prison sentence after a member of the public was killed, and another injured, by cows in a field.

The facts

  • In May 2013 Mike Porter and his brother John were walking with dogs on a pubic footpath through a field near Bradford on Avon. Cows with calves were grazing in the field. The animals belonged to Brian Godwin.

  • Mike Porter died from crush injuries caused by cattle trampling him. His brother suffered multiple rib fractures, a punctured lung and general contusions.

  • Godwin had not taken reasonable precautions to protect members of the public walking on footpaths through his fields, from his cattle.

  • The incident was the fourth in five years involving injuries to members of the public caused by Godwin’s cattle.

  • Where livestock are judged to present a risk to walkers, they should be segregated by fencing or kept in fields without footpaths. The cattle may have attacked the walkers because they perceived a risk to their calves from the men and their dogs.

The decision

Bran Godwin pleaded guilty to a breach of s.3, HSWA, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees. He was given a prison sentence of 12 months suspended for two years and ordered to pay £30,000 costs.

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