Inquest Held Into Death Of St Mary’s Farmer

Coroner's Court at The Old Wesleyan Chapel

An inquest has been held into the death of a local farmer who was crushed under his tractor last year.

Terry Bennett, 64, died on 7th April 2011 when the tractor he had been repairing at Borough Farm on St Mary’s suddenly moved forward.

The tractor rolled over Mr Bennett, pinning him under a spraying attachment on the rear of the vehicle, before coming to a halt after hitting a bulb-sorting machine.

Mr Bennett’s daughter, Sarah Paulger, giving evidence at the inquest, said she had started the engine for her father, who had been searching for an oil leak.

But Mrs Paulger’s foot slipped off the clutch while trying to pull the tractor’s stop lever, causing it to lurch forward. The vehicle had been in-gear with no handbrake applied.

An inspector from the Health and Safety Executive, Jo Fitzgerald, said the whole accident would have taken around 3 to 4 seconds.

This short time would not have allowed an inexperienced tractor driver to react and stop the engine, said Mrs Fitzgerald, especially with the distraction from the noise of the vehicle hitting the barn walls.

The vehicle safety inspector, Mark Richards, said the vehicle was in a satisfactory condition but the stop lever had been stiff, possibly because this was the first time the vehicle had been started that year.

Isles of Scilly Coroner, Mr Ian Arrow, recorded a verdict of accidental death.