Manslaughter trial following death of farm worker in Newton Poppleford nears end

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

The closing speeches in the trial of a farm manager and his employers who are accused of manslaughter have begun.

The jury are expected to retire later this week to consider whether farm worker Kevin Dorman was killed as a result of gross negligence.

Mr Dorman, 25, was crushed to death when the tractor and trailer he was driving fell through a hedge at the bottom of a steep field at Houghton Farm, Newton Poppleford, on May 19, 2014.

Farm manager George Perrott, 51, and the Clinton Devon Farm Partnership are on trial at Exeter Crown Court accused of gross negligence manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences.

Simon Laws, prosecuting, said the accident happened because of Perrott’s gross negligence in failing to maintain the brakes on the Richard Western trailer.

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Paul Dunkels, defending Perrott, said they could not be sure his actions led to the fatal accident or that he had been grossly negligent in the way he maintained the brakes on the trailer.

He added: “Kevin Dorman’s death was a terrible thing to have happened and there will be many who still mourn him, but you must not say to yourself that somebody must be to blame; that there must be a culprit. You must not say that someone is to blame, whatever happened. You must step back and take a measured and dispassionate view of the evidence.”

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Mr Dunkels said Perrott had been thoughtful and caring towards his staff and conscientious in his work. He said his detailed memory of events before the accident had been ‘pushed to the depths of his memory by the horrors of May 19’.

Mr Andrew Langdon, QC, defending the Farm Partnership, said the company had a focus on safety which was backed up by robust policies and good systems for communicating them to staff.

Judge Justice Garnham was set to sum up the evidence in the case as the Herald went to press, before sending the jury out to consider its verdict.

The trial continues.

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