Parents’ justice plea after hay bale death

Charlotte's wedding photograph.
Charlotte's wedding photograph.

The parents of a woman who was killed when a hay bale fell onto her at a livery yard are demanding the resignation of the stables’ owner from the Pony Club.

Charlotte Conroy-Taylor died of multiple injuries after the bale fell from a stack at Beaumont Grange Farm at Slyne near Lancaster.

Charlotte, 45, had been helping her daughter Zara, 13, to care for her pony Flash at the farm on May 31, 2011.

Charlotte’s parents, Jim and Lynette Taylor, say they hope their daughter’s death will serve as a warning to owners of equitation centres to take full responsibility for the safety of their clients.

Carol Hill, 54, and Stephen Hill, 55, last Thursday pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of people at Beaumont Grange Farm Equestrian Centre.

Carol Hill pleaded guilty to failing in her undertaking as an employer to ensure people not in her employment, including Mrs Conroy-Taylor, were not exposed to risk relating to the storage of hay.

Stephen Hill pleaded guilty to similar offences in his capacity as a self-employed person.

In a statement Jim and Lynette Taylor said: “We now know that Charlotte’s death was due to negligence by the owner of the stables, Mrs Carol Hill.

“We think that Mrs Hill should now resign her position as chief instructor of the Lancaster branch of the Pony Club following her admission of guilt. Given the facts that came out at the inquest into our daughter’s death last year, we think that Mrs Hill should have resigned her position as chief instructor immediately after the inquest.

“Members of the public deserve far greater protection than was the case for our daughter at Beaumont Grange Farm. Charlotte’s death has caused us much grief and heartache and we miss her deeply.

“Charlotte’s daughter, Zara, was 12 years old at the time of the accident and was with her mother when it occurred. She is distraught by the loss of her mother and continues to suffer much pain and anguish. We believe that the national Pony Club should be much more proactive in ensuring that all affiliated establishments provide a safe environment for their members.

“All our family are devastated by Charlotte’s tragic death and this loss will remain with us forever.”

The Hills, of Coastal Road, Bolton-le-Sands, will return to Preston Crown Court on December 4 to be sentenced.

They face a possible jail sentence of up to two years or an unlimited fine.

Judge Stuart Baker granted them bail but told them: “That, of course, is not any indication as to what the sentence will be.” He offered his condolences to the family of Mrs Conroy-Taylor.

Coun Karen Leytham, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, said: “This case is a reminder to all business owners of the duty of care they owe and the tragic consequences that can arise if they ignore their obligations.

“It is vital that health and safety risks are identified and dealt with properly, which often involves simple steps so that tragic failings and serious consequences simply can’t happen. Mrs Conroy-Taylor’s death could easily have been avoided if the proper precautions had been in place and I hope other business owners sit up and take note.”

Mrs Hill said she did not wish to make a statement at the present time.