A CORONER heard of the tragic event that claimed the life of one of the best-known figures in the Cumbrian farming industry.

Renowned auctioneer David Joseph Thomlinson was sterilising a new-born calf on his farm at Scaleby, near Carlisle, when the cow’s mother ran towards the 73-year-old.

The cow’s head struck David Thomlinson’s chest, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head on a concrete wall.

Sitting in Carlisle yesterday, an inquest into the death of the former managing director of H&H Group heard from Neil Thomlinson, who referred to David as ‘uncle David’, who had visited the farm to help him sterilise some new-born calves.

“I always knew him as my uncle,” he told the hearing. “He was always uncle David. I used to go up [to the farm] and help.

“He had a guy that worked for him and whenever he wasn’t available I would help him out.”

June 8 was such an occasion, and Neil Thomlinson was lending a hand at the 200-acre farm, comprising of 60 Limousin cattle.

“We sterilise the calf to stop it picking up any diseases,” he told the inquest.

The procedure of administrating iodine to the belly button area is one neither man was a stranger to.

“I have about 30 cows,” continued Neil Thomlinson. “I have done quite a lot of this.”

As well as positioning the cow while the other person administers the iodine, the second person in the process is also there for safety reasons.

“Any cow can be protective over its calf, we have two people for that reason,” Neil Thomlinson said. “We had already done lots in that shed at the start of the season.”

Coroner Craig Smith asked Neil Thomlinson about how frequent this kind of attack is.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” he explained, “but we do get them if they are protective over the calf.

“They usually do that when they see somebody around the shed. You can tell.”

In that situation, Neil Thomlinson said they would not enter the shed.

He told the inquest how common signs of a cow being protective over their young include stamping hooves on the ground and snorting.

However, there had been no such signs on this occasion, he explained.

Neil Thomlinson said that after carrying out a risk assessment, the pair entered the 60ft by 30ft shed.

“We walked in halfway to the calf - about three/four metres away - then the warning signs were the cow coming to us,” he recalled.

“There was a sudden movement - a charging. It moved forward very quickly.

“It came towards me and then it went for David. It pushed him on his chest and knocked him over and came back for me.”

Neil Thomlinson said the pair were travelling backwards to get out of the shed when the cow inflicted its deadly blow.

“It was a nudge to the chest and he went backwards and the back of his head hit the back of the wall,” he recalled.

Neil Thomlinson’s girlfriend called an ambulance, while he called his father.

Efforts to save David Thomlinson in the ambulance - and latterly at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle - were unsuccessful.

Coroner Craig Smith recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

The cause of death was given as a severe head injury caused by David Thomlinson falling backwards and hitting his head.