A farmer has been fined £15,000 (circa €17,500) after members of the public were injured by cattle while walking along footpaths on his estate.
Sir Charles Hobhouse pleaded guilty to health and safety failings at his Monkton Farleigh Estate in Bradford-on-Avon.
It follows two separate incidents in summer of 2021 in which people using public footpaths on his land were attacked by cows.
Retired military officer, Michael Booley, a recent court sitting heard, was walking his dogs with his wife Joanne and their friend, Josian Gauld, on June 5th, 2021.
They found the public right of way blocked by an electric fence, and no alternative route was provided.
After negotiating a fence to continue along the path, the trio were “approached and attacked by several cows”, the sitting was told.
Mrs Booley suffered serious injuries, including a fractured shoulder and broken ribs.
Mr Booley, 57, described the attack as “horrendous” and, in doing so, said he felt “powerless” to protect the pair from the aggressive herd and “still has nightmares about it”.
“Experiencing battle as a solider is different to being attacked out in the countryside when on a leisure walk on a public right of way,” he told the court.
“I witnessed my wife being relentlessly stamped on and head-butted by the cows, and at one stage, she was not responding.”
“Also, witnessed my friend desperately trying to find cover behind a tree and fighting the attacking cows with her rucksack as they attacked her from both sides.”
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Sir Charles Hobhouse had “failed” to ensure the risks to members of the public were controlled, including, where possible, that cattle with calves were suitably segregated from the public footpath.
Second episode involving builder
According to the UK’s safety watchdog, despite being formally instructed to implement controls to prevent a similar incident, a second attack occurred weeks later, on August 19th, 2021.
Local builder, James Johnson, was out for an early morning run with his dog along the footpath when he was attacked by cattle shortly after 6 am.
“I remember the incident clearly,” the 42-year-old recalled during the hearing.
“There were two groups of cows, one of which was running fast towards me and the other coming from a different direction.”
“When I realised what was happening, I let the dog go and started to run.”
“The cattle ran into me and knocked me onto the ground, where I was trampled, pushed and head-butted.”
“Every time I attempted to get back up, they pushed me back down.”
“Near the end, when I was exhausted and hurt, I fell to the ground one more time and remember thinking ‘, this is it – this is where I die’.”
Johnson sustained significant injuries, including concussion, dislocated shoulders, broken ribs, and broken vertebrae and was in hospital for several days.”
On this occasion, according to the HSE, there had been no measures to “segregate the cows from the footpath”.
Sir Charles Hobhouse pleaded guilty at Taunton Crown Court to breaching two counts of section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 on 3 May 2023.
At a sentencing hearing at Bristol Crown Court on June 8th, 2023 (yesterday), he was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,000.
Previous article on www.thatsfarming.com (farming news):
Earlier this year, we reported that a farmer has been sentenced for safety breaches after cattle fatally attacked an 83-year-old man.
The court heard how on May 30th, 2020, 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.
Read more via this link.