A veteran dairy farmer was killed by his own cattle as he tended to them – something he had done ‘thousands of times’, an inquest heard.
Brian Swales, 67, went to check on his 17 Friesian heifers and one bull like any other day after one was described as ‘acting lame’.
But mystery remains over what happened as the grandfather-of-two was alone and no-one saw how he came to die.
North Yorkshire Coroner’s Court heard he suffered broken ribs and lacerations to his lungs resembling crush injuries.
Brian Swales, pictured with grandson Daniel, died after being trampled to death by his own cattle despite tending to the animals ‘thousands of times before’, an inquest heard
Reports at the time claimed he had been was trampled by the bull, but a coroner said it was impossible to tell what happened.
His wife Pauline said she believed he may have slipped in the uneven field and was unable to get back up as he was recovering from a hip operation.
She said that is when she thought the ‘experienced stocksman’ may have been trampled on at a farm at Hutton Rudby, near Stokesly, North Yorkshire.
She told the inquest: ‘His movements trying to get back to his feet may have caused the cows to investigate and have stepped on him.’
The inquest heard that Mr Swales was allowed to use part of the land at Doddle Hill Farm by farmer Charlie Flintoff for his livestock in return for some land for his sheep.
Police, paramedics and an air ambulance arrived at the scene in July but Mr Swales was dead at the scene.
The inquest also heard the exact cause of his death was still a mystery as no one witnessed the trampling. Pictured is Mr Swales with Daniel and his cattle
After the inquest, his daughter Julie Swales, 41, said: ‘He was a very kind and generous man and touched so many people’s lives.
‘Not knowing what happened to dad in such a freak accident is hard to take, but we can’t ask the cows what happened can we?’
Returning a verdict of accidental death, Deputy North Yorkshire East Coroner Richard Watson said: ‘This was a holy tragic case.
‘Clearly Brian had been a farmer all his life and was an experienced stocksman.
‘But because we do not know exactly what happened to him in the field, I can only conclude in the short that he was crushed by cattle.’