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Members of the Public Injured by Cows

A farmer has appeared in court on health and safety charges after his cows attacked two members of the public, one of whom died from his injuries.

Brothers Mike and John Porter were walking on a public footpath that went through a field where cows with calves were grazing. The cows belonged to local farmer Brian Godwin.

The brothers had two dogs on leads with them when they were attacked by the cows. The incident was apparently the fourth in five years involving injuries to members of the public caused by Mr Godwin’s cattle.

The elder brother, John, suffered multiple rib fractures, a punctured lung and general contusions, but survived. However, Mike Porter suffered fatal internal bleeding from crush injuries caused by cattle trampling him.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found the farmer had not taken reasonable precautions to protect members of the public walking on footpaths through his fields from his cattle. Where livestock are judged to present a risk to walkers, they should be segregated by fencing or kept in fields without footpaths.

Between April 2000 and March 2015 there were 18 fatalities to members of the public involving cattle. Most of these incident involved cows with calves, and dogs.

Brian Godwin pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years, and was ordered to pay costs of £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,” commented HSE inspector Dawn Lawrence, speaking after the hearing.

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