Bury St Edmunds: Suffolk horse death handler ‘not formally trained’

A WOMAN who had been in control of a horse and carriage that bolted and fatally injured a partially sighted grandmother at a Suffolk showground had not been given any formal training, an inquest was told.

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

Yesterday, Sally Tyrrell, who had been giving rides to visitors on the four-year-old Breton horse before it “threw its head back and ran”, told the inquest jury that she had only received about 30 minutes of informal training before the event.

A statement by Miss Tyrrell, read to the inquest by Suffolk coroner Peter Dean, said: “I have never been on a formal training course or assessment for driving a horse and carriage.”

She added that Duncan Drye, who ran the carriage rides and 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.

The inquest was told that the event, which was attended by thousands of people, was only Miss Tyrrell’s third time driving a horse and carriage on her own.

Robert Horner, representing the Bullett family, said if it was the case that Miss Tyrrell had received two or three lessons lasting between 20 or 30 minutes each, her training on a horse and carriage added up to “at most an hour, at the least it could be half an hour.”

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Miss Tyrrell, who told the inquest she had spent two years at Otley College, near Ipswich, studying horse care but had not been taught to drive a carriage on her course, simply replied “yes”.

The inquest was told that the 24-year-old had driven a pair of horses two or three times but had driven Lucas just three times on her own - once at the Greene King food and drink festival in May 2011, a private wedding and just days before the incident in Bury town centre.

Miss Tyrrell told the inquest that on the day of the fair the horse “had not put a foot wrong.”

She added: “Lucas did not react to dogs barking, children shouting, loud noises or anything else during the day.”

The court had previously heard that just before Lucas bolted at Nowton Park, his bridle had been removed to allow him to eat.

Miss Tyrrell told the court she was “pretty certain” she had been told to remove it by Mr Drye as it “would not have crossed her mind” to do so otherwise.

Mr Drye’s solicitor, Iain Daniels, put it to Miss Tyrrell that she had received no such instruction.

Miss Tyrrell replied: “I can remember it being said.”

The inquest continues.