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Cattle danger warning after woman trampled to death by 'berserk' cows

Tragedy: 87-year-old Hilary Adair
Tragedy: 87-year-old Hilary Adair

By Michael Drummond

The death of an 87-year-old woman killed by a herd of "berserk" cattle must lead to greater awareness of the dangers cows can pose, a coroner has said.

Hilary Adair was knocked to the ground by Belted Galloway cattle at a countryside beauty spot and repeatedly attacked as she tried to get up.

She was airlifted to hospital from Linchmere Common in Sussex but never regained consciousness and died a week later.

An inquest into her death took place in Crawley yesterday.

The fatal cattle assault came just a day after a couple was chased and injured by the same animals, leaving the husband "covered in blood".

But the inquest was told those responsible for the animals were not immediately conscious of the seriousness of the attack, viewing it as an "isolated incident".

Bryony Dillamore, who witnessed the attack on Mrs Adair on January 7, said: "I didn't see any signs to indicate it was not safe to enter the common. I then noticed the cattle surrounding what I then understood was an elderly person... with blood all over her head and chest."

Ms Dillamore said that every time Mrs Adair moved the cattle would become more aggressive towards her.

She immediately called the ambulance service and others and eventually Mrs Adair was able to be rescued from the herd.

"I believe the cattle were completely out of control," Ms Dillamore added.

Mrs Adair was airlifted to hospital in London but died from her injuries on January 14.

Rachel Thompson told the inquest how she and her husband Carl were set upon by the same cattle herd the day before.

"We were just walking and chatting when we got the sensation that some cows had come behind us and they were very, very close to us," she said.

"We had heard one bellowing and my husband said run and we did. One of them hit me in the right side of the ribs and knocked me flying.

"I was lying there terrified. I was waiting to be trampled, I was bracing myself for it."

Her husband managed to beat them away with a stick and she managed to get back to her feet, but the attack continued and it was some time before the couple managed to escape the field.

Mr Thompson - who was left bleeding from his injuries - said the cattle had "gone berserk".

They contacted The Lynchmere Society, which owns the common, and were put in touch with Lynchmere Community Grazing CIC, the company which owns and looks after the cattle.

Edwin Brooks, one of the directors of the company and said they examined the livestock that night, but at that point were not aware of the seriousness of the attack on the Thompsons.

He told the inquest: "I thought this was an isolated incident."

The cattle were moved to another area of the common and Mr Brooks and his colleague made plans to "monitor the situation" and check on the cattle the next morning.

The next day Mrs Adair and her dog were attacked by the herd, with fatal consequences.

Asked about the future of the cattle herd, which has not been let back onto the common, Mr Brooks said he would want guarantees of change before that were to happen.

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield returned a conclusion of accidental death.

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