Council cleared in carriage death case

One of Duncan Drye's carriages fenced off with police tape soon after the incident at Nowton Park
One of Duncan Drye's carriages fenced off with police tape soon after the incident at Nowton Park
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A jury has decided that St Edmundsbury Borough Council did not breach health and safety legislation at the Nowton Park Country Fair where a woman was fatally injured.

During the trial Ipswich Crown Court heard how a horse being used to provide carriage rides had bolted when it’s bridle was removed and had collided with grandmother Carole Bullett, 57, Clark Walk, Bury St Edmunds, who sustained serious chest injuries and died the next day at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

The council had pleaded not guilty to failing to take adequate steps to safeguard the safety of visitors to Nowton Park Country Fair in June 2011.

The jury adjourned for three hours today to consider five days of evidence and legal submissions, before returning a unanimous not guilty verdict.

The prosecution had been brought following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

It was alleged by the prosecution that as organisers of the popular event,the council had failed to ensure that an adequate safety plan had been obtained from carriage rides operator Duncan Drye before allowing him to go ahead.

The jury was told that a written plan prepared by Mr Drye, described by prosecutor Jonathan Ashley-Norman as “a woeful document”, was only seen after incident took place.

John Smithson, park operations manager for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said when giving evidence that he was satisfied that everything possible had been done to ensure public safety after a site visit with Mr Drye who had previously operated carriage rides in Bury St Edmunds town centre without incident.

When the trial began last week, the jury were told that Mr Drye, 64, of Bishops Road, Bury St Edmunds has pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety legislation in relation to the incident at Nowton Park.