Carriage owner sentenced to community service after country fair death

The owner of a horse and carriage ride has been sentenced to 200 hours of community service after a grandmother died as a result of being struck by a runaway horse at a Suffolk country fair.

Carole Bullet, 57, was at the popular Nowton Park Country Fair in Bury St Edmunds on 19 June 2011 when she was hit by the horse and driverless carriage as they careered though a panicking crowd.

Mrs. Bullet, of Clark Walk, Bury St Edmunds, suffered severe chest injuries and had to be airlifted to Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, where she died the next day.

Ipswich Crown Court heard  (13 January 2014) that the horse’s bridle had been removed after a day providing rides for the public at the fair. Soon afterwards, something startled the animal and it bolted, hitting Mrs Bullet and injuring several other visitors to the fair.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Duncan Drye, the owner and operator of the horse and carriage.

HSE found that Mr Drye had met with the council a few days before the event to discuss the operation of the horse and carriage rides, but that the control measures put in place by Mr Drye on the day were not adequate to ensure the safety of the public.

In particular, Mr Drye had not ensured that his staff were adequately trained and qualified to operate the horse and carriages safely, or that there was a safe system of work on the day including keeping the rides safely segregated from the visitors of the fair.

Duncan Drye of Bishops Road, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was sentenced to community service after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council was found not guilty of the same breach at an earlier hearing.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Malcolm Crowther said:

“This incident was entirely preventable. Because Mr Drye failed to take the necessary safety precautions, one woman needlessly lost her life and a number of others were injured.

“Horse and carriage rides can be run safely provided the proper control measures are in place. It is vital that operators are adequately trained and assessed before they are allowed to operate a ride in public.

“It is also vital that adequate risk assessments are carried out, and the ride is safely segregated from the public.’’

• The British Driving Society offers guidelines on working with horses in harness, including how to operate rides safely. The guidelines can be found here.

Author: News Editor

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