Video: Jury return verdict of accidental death after Bury St Edmunds woman knocked down by runaway horse
THE death of a grandmother killed after a runaway horse and carriage ploughed into a crowd of spectators at a Suffolk country show was accidental, an inquest jury has ruled.
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 inquest had been told that the four-year-old horse, which had been giving rides to visitors, “threw its head back and ran” moments after its bridle was removed.
Witnesses reported how partially-sighted Mrs Bullett, a support worker at the Grosvenor facility at the Wedgwood Unit, had been tossed six-feet into the air after the horse clattered into her.
Yesterday Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean said the death had highlighted a lack of “statutory regulations” of horse carriage rides and the training and testing of their operators.
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Dr Dean said: “I will be writing to the Department for Transport asking them to look at the law in the light of this awful tragedy to draw attention to prevent further similar tragedies occurring in the future.” He added that the evidence heard in the inquest “highlighted the potential risks if the activity is not regulated properly”.
Representatives of Mrs Bullett’s family supported the recommendations and said they would now await the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) review of the case.
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During the two-week inquest, the jury was told that Sally Tyrrell, who had been driving the horse that bolted, had not been given any formal training or assessment.
The 24-year-old told the jury that Duncan Drye, who ran the 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 it was Miss Tyrrell that had removed Lucas’ bridle to allow him to eat hay.
She told the court 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”.
Hannah Rutterford, solicitor representing the Bullett family, said: “They’re absolutely relieved the inquest is now finally over. It has been very distressing for them to hear the evidence.”
She added: “The family are keen to await what the HSE are doing and they will be taking legal advice about any actions they may wish to make.”
An HSE spokesman said they would be “reviewing evidence” to “consider if any prosecution will take place”.
A spokeswoman for the event’s organisers, St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “Our thoughts are very much with Mrs Bullett’s family and everyone who knew her at this distressing time. The council makes every effort to ensure that all events we put on, including the Nowton Park Country Fair, are run safely.
“Following this tragedy we have looked for any areas in which we can improve and we will continue to cooperate with the HSE in their investigation of the accident. Our thoughts are also with all the other people who were affected by the incident.”