Farmer's court tribute to quad bike tragedy victim
A FARMER has paid tribute to a teenage apprentice killed in a quad bike accident on his land.
Philip Coaker, 50, described Phillip Nyhan as a 'real country lad'.
Coaker is accused of breaching health and safety regulations relating to the June 2007 tragedy.
Mr Nyhan died when the quad he was riding smashed head on into a car on a country lane.
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The 17-year-old – who was not wearing a helmet – died from massive head injuries after being thrown from the all terrain vehicle (ATV).
During his trial at Plymouth Crown Court, Coaker spoke fondly of the young farm hand – one of four apprentices who regularly worked on his land at Runnage Farm on Dartmoor.
He said: "We welcomed them not only into our workplace but into our home and into our lives.
"Phillip struck me immediately as a real country lad. He was on the same wave length as I was. It was an extremely easy relationship with him.
"It was more than just a boss/worker relationship, we were trying to show them life.
"The first time Phillip came to me was in December 2006, he was very competent driving a tractor and feeding the livestock indoors."
Coaker explained that how over the coming months, My Nyhan, from Wotter, spent several spells at Runnage Farm.
He was there during lambing season, passed his tractor driving test and flourished in sheep shearing.
He also completed a two day training course on riding quad bikes safely.
Coaker told defence lawyer Adam Vaitilington QC that Mr Nyhan came to Runnage following a weekend sheep shearing course.
He explained: "He was really enthusiastic to tell me about the weekend and the achievement he got from it."
It is alleged that Coaker failed in his duty as an employer to take all measures not to expose persons to risks to their health and safety through the use of ATVs.
Earlier, the court heard a harrowing account of the crash from the driver of the car involved.
Robert Allinson, who was not present in court, was on holiday in Devon from Lancashire with his wife Sheila and some friends.
He was driving his Rover 25 on the single track road between Runnage Farm and Postbridge on the afternoon of June 7 when the horror unfolded.
HSE prosecutor Ian Dixey read the police statement to the court.
It said: "I could see about 50 feet infront of me.
"A quad bike came into my view very quickly. It was bouncing around and appeared out of control.
"It looked like the driver swerved to get alongside my vehicle. I remember thinking 'he's going to hit me'.
"I had a perfectly clear windscreen until it shattered when the quad struck it.
"I got out of my car and could see him lying on his side. I could see that he was unconscious."
Coaker denies the charge.
The trial continues.