Staffordshire dairy farmer avoids jail after worker crushed to death by bull

A dairy farm director from Staffordshire has been given a four-month suspended prison sentence after a worker was crushed to death by a bull.

Staffordshire dairy farmer avoids jail after worker crushed to death by bull

James Leech, aged 75 from Dunston Heath, died in hospital nine days after he was rammed several times against a gate by a Holstein friesian bull weighing around a ton. Mr Leech suffered catastrophic crush injuries including fractured vertebrae, broken pelvis and ribs, punctured lung and lacerations to his internal organs.

Safety failings at Dunston Dairy Farm on Wolverhampton Road, Stafford, led to his death.

Stafford Crown Court heard yesterday that on July 9, 2012, Mr Leech was moving cows and the bull into a cubicle shed at the farm run by Betholt Ltd, of which Mark Holt from Eccleshall is a director.

After a colleague heard shouting, Mr Leech was found slumped in the corner of the yard with the bull directly in front of him. Farm workers managed to get the bull away and secure the area.

The Health & Safety Executive investigated the incident and served an improvement notice on the farm for failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks from handling cattle. The company subsequently carried out an assessment.

The HSE found Betholt Ltd and Holt had failed to plan against the risks posed by working with cattle which led to Mr Leech's death.

Holt of Acton Hill Farm, was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £10,073 after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

Betholt Ltd of Winton House, Stoke Road, Stoke-on-Trent, was also fined £133,333 and ordered to pay costs of £19,421 after admitting the same two breaches.

HSE inspector Wayne Owen said: "Mr Leech was exposed to the dangers posed by working at close quarters with large herd animals including a dairy bull, by a lack of planning and risk assessment by his employer.

"Mark Holt and his company, Betholt Ltd, have neglected their duties by not putting safety measures in place - this has ultimately led to an elderly worker losing his life in tragic circumstances."

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