Farmer crushed by bull was a tragic accident

Alex Wardle, from Lee-on-the-Solent, collapsed at home and tragically died in March 2016, aged 23. 

From left: Alex's father, Stephen Wardle, sister Gemma Wardle, Alex Wardle and his mother, Denise Wardle.

Gosport family to keep Alex’s legacy alive by taking part in Great South Run

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A FARMER was crushed to death by a bull after it failed to recognise him, an inquest has heard.

Ian Rook, 58, of Manor Farm, North Lane, in Clanfield, was killed when the bull attacked him in a field on his farm.

The inquest jury, sitting at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, heard the Aberdeen angus bull had been brought down to the farm from Butser Hill due to the weather worsening.

Mr Rook went to check on the bull, which was snorting, at 3.30pm on November 26, 2010.

Elizabeth Warren, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: ‘He entered the field and approached the bull. The bull had its head down and Mr Rook stroked the bulls head and seemed to speak to it.

‘It butted him, forcing him to be lifted in the air. It butted him several more times moving him along the ground.’

The inquest heard that a car driver who saw the incident sounded her horn to try to stop the bull.

Mr Rook’s wife, Amanda, told the inquest her husband was familiar with handling bulls.

‘As soon as he touched them the bull would stop pawing the ground. It was like flicking a switch,’ said Mrs Rook.

‘He had control, or so he thought.’

That day Mr Rook had been to a memorial service for a friend in East Meon and his wife said he was dressed differently to how he normally would be.

She said: ‘He had a lot of heavy clothing on because it was bitterly cold.

‘He had this red fleece hat on which changed the shape of his head.

‘The light was fading. He did not have his car with him which the bull recognised.’

She added: ‘I feel the bull did not recognise Ian.’

He was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, by ambulance but declared dead just after 5pm.

Barbara Borek, pathologist, found Mr Rook had died from massive chest injuries.

The HSE conducted a thorough investigation.

Mrs Warren said: ‘Mr Rook was an experienced farmer who had bulls on the farm in the past.

‘Most of the bull handling was done by him. There was no indication he was not capable of handling cattle and the farm had suitable equipment for handling cattle.’

The jury recorded a unanimous verdict that Mr Rook’s death was as a result of a tragic accident.