Inquest: Woman was hit and run over by horse and carriage

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A DEVOTED and loving grandmother died after a runaway horse and carriage ploughed into crowds of people at a busy summer fair, an inquest heard.

Carole Bullett, of Clark Walk, in Bury St Edmunds, suffered severe chest injuries after she was knocked down and run over by the horse and carriage at Nowton Park Country Fair on June 19 2011.

The moments in which a popular family event descended into ‘total carnage’ were relived at an inquest into her death this week.

Jurors heard of the ensuing chaos when the strawberry roan Breton horse, which had been giving carriage rides throughout the day, broke loose and bolted into scores of visitors.

The horse, called Lucas, was owned by Duncan Drye, who was approached by fair organisers St Edmundsbury Borough Council to provide a horse drawn carriage service after the usual operator of the service became unavailable.

Mr Drye had provided a similar service in Bury St Edmunds town centre.

Malcolm Crowther, inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, said Mr Drye’s assistant Sally Tyrrell had driven Lucas for the whole day.

At about 4.20pm she finished a ride with him and was told by Mr Drye to remove Lucas’ bridle and bit so the horse could eat some hay.

She replaced the bridle with a head collar and held his lead rope in one hand and a hay net in the other.

Mr Crowther said Lucas’ head suddenly went up startled and alert and he began to move off at a trot.

She tried to hold on but lost her grip.

The horse went into the car park before heading along Lime Avenue at a gallop towards the stalls and crowds.

Mr Drye and his assistant ran until they found Lucas on the ground wearing neither bridle or head collar on his head.

Mrs Bullett, 57, who was put on the blind register in 1992, had been enjoying a Sunday afternoon out with her husband Alan, daughter Lynsey and seven-year-old grandson Tyler.

A statement from bystander Jean Cramer, read by the coroner Dr Peter Dean, said Mrs Bullett ‘never even had chance to turn her head before she was hit’.

She said the horse ‘looked absolutely terrified’ and it knocked another woman off a mobility scooter.

In another statement, Elisabeth Haslam said: “Everyone was screaming as they all tried to dive for cover and out of its path.

“I saw the sickening sight of a female suddenly catapulted into the air. The female went high enough for me to see her. I would guess about 6ft.”

Colin Bloom, of Bury Starlets, was on a stall when he saw the horse strike the back of Mrs Bullett.

She fell, was dragged by the horse’s legs a distance of about 6ft and the carriage went over her.

Mrs Bullett was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, where she died at about 6.40am on June 20.

Pathologist Dr M Dada, who conducted a post-mortem examination on Mrs Bullett, said she suffered extensive chest bruising which was consistent with a blunt force injury and a number of her ribs were fractured. He said her death was caused by a chest injury.

The inquest also heard that the horse was put down in January this year following a worm infestation.

However, vets found ‘no evidence of any clinical reason for him to have exhibited abnormal behaviour’ at Nowton Park.

The inquest at Bury Farmers Club continues next week.