Norfolk farmer killed by bull he raised from a calf on his farm at Stoke Ferry

Coroner Jacqueline Lake, who concluded Mr Brown's death was accidental. Picture: Simon Finlay Coroner Jacqueline Lake, who concluded Mr Brown's death was accidental. Picture: Simon Finlay

Monday, March 31, 2014
2:13 PM

A farmer was killed by a bull he had raised from a calf, an inquest heard today.

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Thomas Brown, 64, called a farm hand for help after his van got stuck in mud on his land at Oxborough Fen Farm, Stoke Ferry.

But when Nathan Enefer said it would take him 30 or 40 minutes to finish a spraying job, Mr Brown set off on foot across the field where his two-year-old Limousin-cross bull grazed.

Mr Enefer said Mr Brown called him at 4.40pm on the afternoon of Thursday, October 31. He said when he did not arrive, he went to look for him and found him laying on his back.

“I knew the bull was in the field and was fearful the bull had got him,” he said in a statement read out by coroner Jacqueline Lake.

“I went over to him and felt for a pulse and could not feel one. The bull has always been a bit unpredictable.

“Anyone who had anything to do with it knew they should never turn their back to it.”

Mr Enefer called an ambulance and performed CPR for 20 minutes until paramedics arrived. Mr Brown was pronounced dead at 6.35pm.

Theresa Wilks, who lived at the farm, said in a statement she had looked after the animal since it was born.

“This is not the first time the bull has gone for someone,” she said. “Recently the bull has become a bit temperamental.”

Miss Wilks said she had been forced to jump into a ditch to escape when the bull charged her four months earlier. She added Mr Brown had talked of selling the animal.

Louise Peckham, who rented grazing land from Mr Brown, said she could recall an occasion when the bull had attacked Mr Brown’s van. “I know Mr Brown didn’t like the bull,” she said.

Sgt Marcus Rowe said he arrived on the scene at 6.15pm with a colleague, PC Leadwood.

“The bull believed to have caused the injury to the farmer was still at large,” he said. “By this time it was dark and we could not see the animal.”

Police found the animal at 10pm and it was shot by a firearms officer.

Insp Malcolm Burt said Mr Brown did not appear to fear the bull and its increasingly unpredictable behaviour.

“Mr Brown’s tragic death was almost certainly caused by the injuries inflicted by the bull,” he said. “The post mortem indicates the likely initial contact was on the front of the upper body.”

Insp Burt said it was not known whether the bull caught Mr Brown unawares, charging him from a distance, or whether he confronted the animal before it attacked him.

He added Mr Brown’s mobile phone and cigarettes had been placed together on the ground near his body - suggesting he may have put them down to free both hands to shoo the beast away.

“Sadly whatever tactics Mr Brown employed to defend himself against the bull attack proved unsuccessful,” he added.

Paul Unwin, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, said the bull, which had a full set of horns and weighed 7 - 800kg was allowed to roam free over most of the farm.

“It could be said Mr Brown was the author of his own misfortune,” he said. “He knew the bull was in the vicinity, it was getting dark, the animal was black, he chose to leave the vehicle.”

Dr William Landells, who carried out the post mortem, said Mr Brown died of multiple injuries consistent with being attacked by a bull. Details of his injuries were not read out in court.

Coroner Mrs Lake said her conclusion was that Mr Brown’s death was accidental.

“We don’t know what happened to cause the bull to attack Mr Brown on this particular occasion but it was known to be aggressive and had been known to attack Mr Brown in the past,” she said.

“His death does show the importance of respecting such animals and of taking precautions.”

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