Farmer found not guilty of manslaughter after rambler died in cattle field
NewsMonday 12 May 2014
A farmer has been cleared of manslaughter after a walker died in a field of cattle.
The prosecution had alleged that a bull, which belonged to Paul Waterfall, had attacked and killed Roger Freeman, 63, as he walked with his wife on a footpath along the farmer’s land in November 2010.
Glynis Freeman, Mr Freeman’s wife who was 67 at the time of the incident, had told the police that the animal responsible for the attack was a “brown slobbering” bull with 12in horns.
She reported that the animal had charged and tossed her husband in the air.
However, after giving evidence in the four-week trial, Mrs Freeman, who is now 70, said that she could no longer be sure that the animal that attacked her and her husband did have horns.
According to The Telegraph, the Brown Swiss bull in question, which was named Moonriver Zac Pi, had been kept in the field with a number of other breeds of cow.
Prosecutor Andrew McGee had alleged that Mr Waterfall knew the bull posed a “deadly risk” and said that the farmer had a duty of care to protect those people using the public footpath over his land.
However, when arguing his case, Mr Waterfall said that the 19-month-old bull, known as Zac, did not have horns and he also went on to say that if it had shown any aggression, it would have been culled.
Nottingham Crown Court heard that the attack happened as the light was fading at around 4.30pm on the afternoon of the 12th November 2010.
It also heard that both Mr and Mrs Freeman, from Glen Parva in Leicestershire, were experienced ramblers who had been walking the 15 miles from Nottingham to Loughborough when the incident occurred.
The couple saw the cows and the bull in the field and carried on walking along the public footpath across Mr Waterfall’s land when the attack took place.
Mrs Freeman attempted to defend her husband from the animal and was also injured in teh incident.
According to The Telegraph Mrs Freeman survived the attack by climbing over a fence and flagging down a passing motorist. She said that the last thing she heard her husband say as he called on her to get help was: “I’m sorry my baby, I can’t get us out of this.”
Paramedics discovered Mr Freeman’s body in the field and a post-mortem examination revealed that he suffered broken ribs, shoulders and upper arms as well as fractures to his vertebrae.
Mrs Freeman also had to undergo surgery for chest and abdominal injuries.
After the incident the bull was destroyed.
The jury took just over two-and-a-half hours to find the farmer not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and after the hearing Mr Waterfall declined to comment out of respect for the Freeman family.
Following the verdict, Judge Gregory Dickinson told the court: ''Whatever the verdict, I have no doubt all the jury felt enormous sympathy for Mrs Freeman and for family and friends.
''I express my sympathies and condolences to the family, who have been through a horrible ordeal.''
The judge criticised the time it took to charge Mr Waterfall following the incident. The farmer was charged last year following Mr Freeman's death in 2010.
Judge Dickinson said: ''I struggle to understand how it took so long to come to a decision to charge. The Crown Prosecution Service should look very carefully at the history of this case to find out what lessons can be learned.''
The judge also said the case questioned the importance of leaving health and safety issues to self-regulation.
He said it raised the question of whether Brown Swiss bulls should be added to the list of animals that could not be kept in a field where there is a public right of way.
Adam Rowden is a writer for Farming Ads view his Google+ page.