The McKaskie ruling may have implications for rights of way where cattle are kept

The McKaskie ruling may have implications for rights of way where cattle are kept

A court has ordered a farmer to pay £¼ million compensation to a walker who was left severely injured when cows trampled her on his land.

Shirley McKaskie was walking with her jack russell dog across farmland at Greystoke, Cumbria, when she was attacked by a herd with calves six years ago. The ruling could have implications for all routes where public rights of way cross farmland.

The businesswoman, now 54, was walking with her dogs to meet her partner at the pub when the incident took place. She now has to use a wheelchair and is brain damaged. She needed emergency brain surgery after the attack, which also left her with a broken arm, broken ribs and multiple bruising.

Farmer John Cameron found her unconscious and transported her on his quad bike back to his farmhouse, from where she was rushed to hospital.

Mr Cameron has said he will appeal the judgement, which also leaves him with legal costs of more than £100,000. The interim compensation was set at £250,000. The final compensation amount will depend on the result of the appeal and an assessment of Ms McKaskie’s needs.

Sitting at Blackpool County Court, His Honour Judge Nigel Howarth heard that Ms McKaskie strayed from the designated right of way, but ruled that Mr Cameron was still guilty of a breach of duty of care because he had accepted walkers using the route she took previously. The footpath was also blocked by nettles, which entitled users of the right of way to deviate around them.

There were also no signs at the site to indicate the correct route of the path.

Each Simmental-cross cow weighed half a ton. Ms McKaskie was left with little recollection of the incident, in which she is believed to have been tossed around by the herd of 40, before being trampled by them.

Judge Howarth ruled that she had not consented to the risk that the cows might attack when she entered the field. Her original claim was for £1m.

Although the case is likely to set a precedent, Judge Howarth stated that each case would depend on the circumstances. The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident but decided to take no action.

Last month, vet Liz Crowsley was killed by a herd of cows on the Pennine Way at Gayle, near Hawes, North Yorkshire. She too was walking with dogs when the cattle turned on her.

See also

Million pound claim after cows attack woman

‘No need for signs’ in field where cows trampled woman

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