Forensic Services >> Case Studies >> Farm Worker Tragedy

Farm Worker Tragedy

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One of our Imagery experts played a pivotal role supporting Devon & Cornwall Police in a gross negligence manslaughter case, in which a volunteer farm-worker became entangled in a piece of un-guarded agricultural machinery and died as a result.

20-year-old Lauren Scott’s  death was caused by a catastrophic entanglement with a Power Take Off (PTO) shaft running from a tractor to an old milling machine used for preparing animal feed. Lauren was operating the machine when her hair and clothes got caught in the PTO shaft. She died instantly

She had been working on the farm as a volunteer because of her love of animals and it is understood that farm-owner Neil Carpenter had asked her to operate the piece of dangerous machinery, un-supervised, despite the fact that the PTO lacked a fully-functioning guard, to prevent the operator coming into contact with it.

Carpenter denied that he had been near the machinery on the day of the accident and alleged that Lauren used it without his knowledge.  Devon & Cornwall investigators carried out a detailed and thorough investigation with the key evidence being a video found on Lauren’s phone.

The video was taken by Lauren whilst she was feeding pigs on the farm less than 30 minutes before the tragedy occurred. By unbelievable chance, about 2 seconds of Lauren’s video caught the tractor in the distant background.

This video was examined by one of our Imagery Experts and by enhancing the video images they concluded that not only was there someone in the tractor’s cab, but there was also the sound of the engine starting up. With only Lauren and Carpenter at the farm the only logical explanation was that the person visible in the tractor cab had to be Carpenter and that he had lied about using the machinery.

Neil Carpenter was found guilty following the trial at Exeter Crown Court on the 5th of November; Carpenter had also pleaded guilty to two other offences under the Health and Safety Act. He was sentenced to four and a half years for gross negligence manslaughter and 10 months for further health and safety offences.

Lauren Scott