A Fireman's Siren Caused "Death by Dangerous Driving"
1. A fireman who sounded his siren and frightened a herd of cows into trampling their farmer pleaded guilty on 14 December 2010 to causing death by dangerous driving. Julian Lawford, aged 49, and his crew of five were on their way to deal with an emergency near Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, in August when their fire engine was held up by the 100 dairy cows crossing a country lane. Harold Lee, aged 75, was moving the Holstein Friesian cattle 100 metres from their field to his milking parlor at Burtle, near Bridgewater, with his 2 sons. Lawson become impatient and switched the siren on, causing panic and a stampede. Mr Lee tried to stop them by getting off his quad bike and holding his arms out, but he was trampled. He died in hospital from head and chest injuries 6 days later.
2. Julian Lawford, a volunteer fireman from Glastonbury, was charged with manslaughter, but a plea of guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by dangerous driving was accepted. At Exeter Crown Court Mr Justice Evans said: “ I do not contemplate sending this defendant to immediate custody. There are background issues and personal circumstances which it might be helpful to hear about.” Lawford will be sentenced on 20th December. The report in our possession fails to mention any injuries or culling in the cattle.
3. We urge our voluntary campaigners to use opportunities such as these to learn lessons from such country disasters and to exploit the cogency of distributing our leaflets appropriately. The incident, is not an unusual example of countryside life, in which the advantages of keeping livestock in designed housing and enclosures can be preferred to free range and avoidable risks of handling and moving (which also entail loading and unloading) and the waste in loss and production of animals in an ungainly state and slow to move, with all the risks of delays and annoyance. These are especial risks in the “dairy job,” yielding “the white stuff”, meat, and calves.