Farmer’s family urges greater awareness of dangers handling bulls

Patrick Dowds was trampled to death by bull and his twin brother George was mauled

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said his verdict was Patrick Dowds died as a result of a farm accident caused by respiratory failure as a result of a flail chest caused by trampling of a bull. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said his verdict was Patrick Dowds died as a result of a farm accident caused by respiratory failure as a result of a flail chest caused by trampling of a bull. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The family of a farmer trampled to death by a bull has urged the Department of Agriculture and the Irish Farmers’ Association to raise more awareness of the potential dangers of handling such animals.

The appeal was made at the inquest into the death of Patrick Dowds at Letterkenny Coroner’s Court in Co Donegal.

The court heard how the 65-year-old twin was mauled to death and his brother George suffered serious injuries when the bull attacked them during separate incidents on their farm in Burt on September 16th last year.

Mr Dowds was found by relatives in a field having suffered serious chest injuries after being trampled on by the Charolais bull.

His twin, George, who lived with his sibling, later escaped with his life when the bull turned on him as he searched for his missing brother.

The bull was later put down in sheds nearby.

The owner of the bull, who was a neighbour of the Dowds brothers, said the three-year-old animal had shown no previous sign of aggression.

John McDaid had not charged the Dowds for the loan of the bull to cover their 30 cows, describing it simply as a “neighbourly gesture”.

Show of aggression

He did not agree with suggestions from Séamus Gunne, solicitor for the Dowds family, that the bull may have become aggressive because the other cows had been removed from the field.

“That breed of a bull would never show aggression, that would happen more in Friesians. You always have to be cautious and have respect and you naturally take a stick with you.

“But no, if he had one cow they are usually happy enough,” he said.

Mr Gunne said: “The message has to go out there that you cannot be relaxed in any way in dealing with these animals – especially in covering season. If that message goes out then Patrick’s life will not have been in vain.”

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said his verdict was that Mr Dowds died as a result of a farm accident caused by respiratory failure as a result of a flail chest caused by trampling of a bull.

He said he did not wish to add to Mr Gunne’s warning as the farming community was aware of the dangers of handling bulls but that this warning could remind them of those risks.