Farmer denies breach of safety over fatal quad bike crash
A farmer has gone on trial more than five years after a teenage apprentice was killed in a quad bike crash.
Philip Coaker is accused of breaching health and safety regulations relating to the June 2007 tragedy.
Phillip Nyhan died after a head-on smash while working on Coaker’s Dartmoor farm.
The 17-year-old was riding on a narrow country lane when he collided with another vehicle and was thrown from the machine.
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Mr Nyhan, from Wotter near Plymouth, was not wearing a helmet – and died from severe head injuries.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has brought the prosecution, says Coaker failed in his duty as an employer to take all measures not to expose persons, including Mr Nyhan, to risks to their health and safety through the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), commonly known as quad bikes.
The 50-year-old, from Widecombe-in-the-Moor on Dartmoor, denies the allegation.
Opening the trial at Plymouth Crown Court yesterday, HSE prosecutor Ian Dixey said Coaker was one of six directors of Moor Skills Farming Project Limited, a company set up by a group of moorland farmers to train young apprentices in the “unique farming skills” needed on Dartmoor. Four apprentices, including Mr Nyhan, began the 20-month training programme in 2006.
Mr Dixey told the court how Mr Nyhan was riding on the C231 between Runnage Farm and Postbridge at about 1.30pm on June 7, 2007 when the crash happened. The teenager was not wearing a crash helmet, Mr Dixey said.
Mr Dixey said there was a helmet available to Nyhan. But he told the court Coaker had regularly seen the teen riding without one and had not “insisted” that he did so.
The trial continues.