Farmer cleared of safety breaches in quad bike tragedy
A FARMER has been found not guilty of breaching health and safety regulations surrounding the death of a teenage apprentice in a quad bike accident.
Philip Coaker, 50, was cleared by a jury of failing to protect 17-year-old Phillip Nyhan from the risks of using All-Terrain Vehicles.
He died after a head-on smash while working on Coaker's Dartmoor farm back in June 2007.
The 17-year-old was riding on a narrow country lane when he collided with another vehicle and was thrown from the machine. Mr Nyhan, from Wotter, was not wearing a helmet – and died from severe head injuries.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Coaker, who farms near Widecombe-on-the-Moor, had denied an allegation from the Health and Safety Executive that he did not fulfil his duty as an employer by making the teenager wear a helmet.
But Coaker had previously pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations requiring him to keep the vehicle in good repair.
After the trial verdict, Ian Dixey, for the Health and Safety Executive, told the jury that faults were discovered when the police examined the Suzuki machine after the crash.
He said that the rear brakes were not working and the tyres were incorrect pressures.
But Mr Dixey said there was no evidence that the faults contributed to the accident.
Judge Graham Cottle fined Coaker what he called a "nominal" sum of £250 and ordered him to pay £2,000 towards the HSE's costs.
Judge Cottle said: "I am not particularly persuaded there was anything particularly unsafe about the operation of this bike.
"The braking efficiency of the bike was still 96 per cent."
He added that the five and half years between the accident and the end of the court case would have "weighed heavily" on Coaker.
The court was told Ann Marie Nyhan, Phillip's mother, had stayed in touch with Coaker since the accident.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector, Simon Jones, said: "It is essential that quad bikes are properly maintained. If a quad is not in full working order it should not be used."