Experienced Cornwall farmer crushed to death by 'excited' bull calves

The inquest heard Alan Vague died after being "crushed by one or more" of five bull calves.

An experienced Cornish farmer was crushed to death by "excited" bull calves as he moved them to another field, an inquest has heard.

Alan Vague, 76, was found fatally injured by his wife in a field gateway in St Issey, near Wadebridge, Cornwall, last June.

The inquest heard he died after being "crushed by one or more" of five bull calves.

The jury, which heard he died from a chest injury, returned a conclusion of accidental death.

Margaret Vague went looking for her husband after he did not return from going to "turn out" the bulls and move them to a fresh pasture.

She became worried when he did not answer his phone.

After going to the top field, Mr Vague's wife of 53 years found her husband lying on the ground with one boot on and one boot off.

She said: "He did not speak. He was clearly in distress. He had a major injury to his face.

"He reached and picked up his phone and unlocked it and he tried to say something. He could not get the words out."

Mrs Vague described how her husband tried to pull himself up using the gate bars, but fell unconscious.

An air ambulance arrived within 10 minutes but the crew was unable to revive him.

Margaret Vague said her husband was "never happier than when he was busy on the farm" and described his death as "tragic and untimely".

Health and Safety Executive inspector Simon Jones investigated the death.

He said the Vagues ran "an excellent farm with very high standards of cattle handling and animal welfare".

Mr Jones described how Hereford pedigree bull calves weighed between 350 and 450 kilograms.

He said the Hereford breed has a docile temperament and is less troublesome to handle and that normally Alan would carry a stick with him to guide the animals, but on this day he did not have it with him.

Mr Jones said: "The cattle would have been excited about going to the fresh pasture and the pinch point would be the gate going into the field."

Devon and Cornwall Police said there were no suspicious circumstances and he was unaware of any injuries to the animals.

Recording the conclusion, senior Cornwall coroner Andrew Cox said the animals were "large beasts" and one had been hand-reared and was "potentially more boisterous than the others".