Livestock auctioneer fined after cow escapes and tramples man to death

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A company has been fined £75,000 after a cow broke free from Whitland Livestock Market in Wales and killed a 75-year-old man who was crossing a nearby street.

J.J. Morris, which has operated the market for more than 30 years, had failed to identify the risk posed by escaped cattle and implement effective control measures, said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The cow broke free while being unloaded into a pen and attacked a man in a nearby street. Photograph: iStock/dageldog

Huw Evans had been crossing a nearby junction on 19 November 2022 when the cow, which had escaped while being unloaded into a pen at the market and was heading towards the town of Whitland in Carmarthenshire, knocked him over and trampled on him. Mr Evans suffered multiple injuries and was flown to the University Hospital of Wales, where he died six days later.

A J.J. Morris employee was also injured during an unsuccessful attempt to capture the cow. The cow was later captured near a railway line and was put to sleep by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The auctioneer had “failed to implement basic, physical control measures to prevent cattle from escaping”, said HSE, adding that the company’s risk assessment was unsuitable and insufficient because it referenced control measures that were not in place at the market.

J.J. Morris, of Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £5,047.55 in costs at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on 20 June.

Mr Evans’ son Dafydd said in a statement: “Dad was my best friend and I miss him terribly. He was taken from us too soon. Losing Dad has had a tremendous effect on both myself and my brother. Because of this incident, Dad’s grandsons will never fully know him personally and he will not see them grow up.”