Trailer death manager cleared of health and safety breach

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court - Credit: Archant

An award winning farm manager will not face a retrial over the death of a young tractor driver who was killed in a trailer accident.

George Perrott was found not guilty of manslaughter at a trial at Exeter Crown Court earlier this month but the jury was unable to agree on a health and safety charge.

Mr Perrott, aged 51, has now been cleared of failing to ensure the safety of farm worker Kevin Dorman after the prosecution decided not to seek a retrial.

He was the winner of Farming Weekly’s Farm Manager of the Year award in 2007 and acted on the judging panel the following year.

Mr Simon Laws, QC, prosecuting, said they were offering no evidence on the remaining charge. He said: “It would not be right to try this matter again and would not be in the public interest.

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Judge Peter Johnson entered a formal verdict of not guilty and told Mr Perrott: “That brings matters to an end. That is it. You have been acquitted.”

Clinton Devon Farm Partnership, the farming division of Clinton Devon Estates, was found not guilty of corporate manslaughter and failing to ensure the health and safety of an employee at the original trial.

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Mr Dorman, aged 25, died from head injuries when his tractor-trailer unit crashed through a hedge at the bottom of a steeply sloping muddy field at Houghton Farm, Newton Poppleford, on May 19, 2014.

He was driving a John Deere tractor which was towing a Richard Western trailer which was half full of freshly cut silage and weighed about ten tons.

The air brakes on the rear of the trailer were not working and during the trial the prosecution alleged this was the result of inadequate or faulty maintenance and was the cause of the accident.

Mr Perrott, who had known Mr Dorman since he was a boy and had given him his job at the farm, told the jury he was devastated by the tragedy and the day of the accident was ‘the worst day of my life’.

He said he had adjusted the air brakes the week before the accident and had skid tested them in the farm yard.

Clinton Devon Farms Partnership is a division of Clinton Devon Estates which manages 2,800 acres of organic farmland in the Lower Otter valley and is Devon’s biggest private landowner with 17,000 acres in East and North Devon and 350 houses. It manages the holdings of Lord Clinton.

Kevin was a former Sidmouth College and Bicton College student who had worked on farms since he was a schoolboy and worked for CDFP for a year.

He was engaged to his fiancee Kirsty Clode and they were buying a house together on a shared ownership scheme. He was a keen footballer who played as striker for Sidmouth Town.

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