Teacher killed by cow when herd ran free on Northumberland bridleway, court told | Northumberland #Teacher #killed #cow #herd #ran #free #Northumberland #bridleway #court #told #Northumberland

A primary school teacher was killed by a cow when an “entirely uncontrolled” herd of cattle was allowed to run free on a public bridleway, a court has heard.

Marian Clode, 61, was on an Easter break in Northumberland in April 2016 and walking with her family when the runaway cow charged at her and attacked her three times.

She died days later in hospital, having suffered a severe spinal cord injury in the fall.

Alistair Nixon, 62, who is a farmer, appeared on Wednesday at Newcastle crown court on behalf of the JM Nixon partnership that runs Swinhoe Farm, near Belford, to plead guilty to a health and safety breach.

He admitted failing to ensure the safety of persons other than employees by exposing them to risks to their safety from the movement of cattle.

The court was told that the farming family could face a fine of up to £250,000 for having no “suitable and sufficient” plan in place to prevent the tragedy.

Craig Hassall KC, for the prosecution, said the farmer and employees were moving a herd of about 140 cattle from winter quarters to summer grazing using a public right of way.

Nixon was positioned by a quad bike at the head of the bridleway and used a stick to stop some of the cattle from moving down the path before he was ready. However, a group of seven or eight cows and five or six calves got past and moved along the bridleway and over the brow of a hill, out of sight.

“There is no evidence whatsoever of any sense of urgency in seeking to regain control of these seven or eight cows and their calves,” said Hassall. They were left “entirely uncontrolled”.

Clode and her family, who were staying in holiday cottages on the farm and who had been out for an afternoon walk, were coming in the opposite direction to the cattle.

Other family members managed to get out of the way by leaping over a barbed wire fence but Clode was attacked by a cow that turned 90 degrees towards her as she stood by a wooden gate.

Hassall said: “It charged at her two or three times and then tossed her over the wooden gate.”

The prosecution referred to a statement by Miriam Parker, a cattle behaviour expert, who said farmers were guided by the Highway Code when moving livestock and that the animals should be kept under control on public rights of way at all times.

Hassall, referring to Parker’s expertise, said: “Cattle in full-blown fight mode will attack using their head, often repeatedly, and patently that is what transpired here.”

Tom Gent, representing the Nixon partnership, said Nixon wanted to apologise and “express heartfelt sympathy” to all those who knew Clode.

“It is an area he travels daily. He is reminded of this tragedy every day and in my submission it is important to mark the significant impact this has had on him when he ascended that hill on his quad bike to find the horrors of what had happened.

“It will live with him and his family for ever.”

Clode was born in Derry and lived in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester.

The judge indicated he will pass sentence on Friday.

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