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Bury St Edmunds: Council to be prosecuted over Nowton Park death

PUBLISHED: 10:28 18 January 2013 | UPDATED: 15:39 18 January 2013

Moments after Mrs Bullett was knocked down

Moments after Mrs Bullett was knocked down

© SWNS Group

THE Health and Safety Executive will prosecute St Edmundsbury Borough Council and the owner of a horse and carriage over the death of a partially-sighted grandmother at a Suffolk fair ground.

Carole Bullett, 57, of Clark Walk, Bury St Edmunds, died from serious chest injuries in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, a day after being knocked down at the Nowton Park Country Fair in June 2011.

The Health and Safety Executive has been reviewing evidence of the incident since an inquest into Mrs Bullett’s death in October last year returned an accidental verdict.

Yesterday the HSE confirmed that the council, who organised the event, had been charged with contravening a health and safety regulation.

Duncan Drye, who owned the horse and carriage and was running the ride attraction, will also be prosecuted.

During a two week inquest, a jury was told that the four-year-old horse called Lucas, had “thrown its head back and ran” moments after its bridle was removed by Sally Tyrrell.

The 24-year-old told the jury that Mr Drye, who also employed her to help on his horse-drawn tours of Bury St Edmunds, had given her several basic driving lessons – but no health and safety instructions.

She added she was “pretty certain” that it was her employer that had given her the instruction to take off the harness, something strongly denied by Mr Drye.

Days later the inquest heard from John Parker, president of the British Driving Society, who said the horse could have bolted because he did not want to return to work.

Mr Parker added that it was “in everybody’s rulebook never to take the bridle off the horse”.

John Smithson, park redevelopment manager for St Edmundsbury Borough Council and lead organiser of the event, told the inquest that no specific risk assessment had been carried out and that he was did not know what qualifications Mr Drye had. Mr Smithson added that he had met with Mr Drye days before the event to discuss possible risks and the route in what he described as a “dynamic risk assessment”.

A spokesman for the HSE said: “I can confirm that the Health and Safety Executive will prosecute St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Mr Duncan Drye for offences under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 in relation to the fatal incident at Nowton Park in Suffolk in June 2011.

“As this is now a matter for the court it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The case, which was due to open at West Suffolk Magistrates’ Court yesterday afternoon, has been put back until February 7.

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