Cow attack farmer given suspended sentence over walker death

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Image copyright Porter family
Image caption Mike Porter was a former Edinburgh University lecturer

A farmer whose cows trampled a walker to death has been given a 12-month suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to health and safety failings.

Mike Porter, 66, from Edinburgh, was killed in the cattle attack on a public footpath through Elbow Field in Turleigh, Wiltshire, in May 2013.

Brian Godwin, 83, admitted not keeping people not employed by him safe.

The judge at Swindon Crown Court suspended the farmer's sentence for two years because of his age.

Godwin was also ordered to pay £30,000 costs.

The court heard there had been at least four previous incidents, in which six people suffered injuries needing hospital treatment, and involved Mr Godwin's beef cattle, going back to 2004.

These incidents did not include the fatal attack on Mike Porter on 13 May 2013.

Mr Porter had been visiting his older brother John Porter, from Monkton Combe near Bath, when they walked dogs on leads across the footpath through Elbow Field.

Image caption John Porter was flown to hospital but his brother Mike died at the scene in May three years ago

The men were knocked to the ground by two cows and stamped on. Mike Porter died at the scene of internal bleeding.

John Porter said he "didn't have any fear" before entering the field but added "now of course, it's a little different".

He said: "It's a national problem. It happens all over the country. We're privileged in having these footpaths but they do need to be managed.

"I think it requires an understanding by the walker. I think the signage is one factor which can be improved."

Nick Porter, Mr Porter's son, said the sentencing showed his death was "avoidable".

"While nothing will bring Dad back to us, we can at least take some comfort that lessons have been learned which will prevent others in the future being needlessly killed or injured," he said.

Dawn Lawrence, HM Inspector of Health and Safety, said: "The agency hopes that Mr Godwin's conviction and sentence will send a clear message to farmers they must take adequate steps to protect members of the public using footpaths on their land."