Bury St Edmunds: Judge refuses to overturn guilty plea in fair death case

Nowton Park in Bury St Edmunds

Nowton Park in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

A horse and carriage rides operator who admitted breaching health and safety legislation following the death of a grandmother has failed to have his guilty plea overturned.

Duncan Drye, 64, of Bishops Walk, Bury St Edmunds, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

In March, he pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that visitors to Nowton Park Country Fair in June 2011 were not exposed to risks to health and safety.

The prosecution came after Carole Bullett, 57, of Clark Walk, Bury, was fatally injured when she suffered chest injuries in an accident involving a runaway horse and carriage.

She died the following day at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

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Alison Lambert, for Drye, told the court Drye was applying to change his guilty plea to not guilty to allow him to stand trial.

Last month St Edmundsbury Borough Council, who organised the fair, was found not guilty by a jury of the same offence as Drye following a trial.

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Mrs Lambert said that when Drye pleaded guilty he was informed by his insurers that they would not continue funding his legal representation if he denied the offence.

After considering submissions from Jonathan Ashley-Norman, prosecuting, and Mrs Lambert, Judge David Goodin said he was not prepared to allow Drye to change his plea and that success in such applications was “exceedingly rare”.

Judge Goodin said while the offence was serious, it did not justify a prison sentence.

He ordered a pre-sentence report by the Probation Service before sentencing in January.

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