A farmer has been jailed for the unlawful killing of a young animal-loving volunteer who died in a horrific incident at his farm.
Neil Carpenter, 45, was jailed for four and a half years for the manslaughter by gross negligence of 20-year-old Lauren Scott, from Kenton, near Exeter.
The judge said Mr Carpenter had lied to hinder the investigation because of his “panic and shock” after Miss Scott was killed in the “most dreadful entanglement” with a power take-off (PTO) shaft, connected to a broken and old milling machine.
But his lies were uncovered by Miss Scott’s mobile phone, which she had used to record some of her beloved piglets on the farm where she had been helping out.
The footage showed that Mr Carpenter had started up his red Case tractor which powered the PTO shaft to the milling machine – when he said he had been bedding down some pigs.
Sentencing Mr Carpenter at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday (6 November), Mr Justice Dingemans said: “No one intended her death.”
Mr Ben Compton QC, defending, said his client’s panic and shock led him to tell police a “false version of events which he became stuck with”.
He added: “He has been broken by this experience. The Scotts’ loss is immeasurable. There are no victors in these cases.”
Miss Scott’s heartbroken mother wept as she told the court about losing her daughter who she said had everything to live for.
Nicola Scott-Hooper said it was “almost impossible” to describe the impact her daughter’s death had had on her parents and six siblings.
She added: “Our lives will never be the same again. When Lauren died, part of me died with her.”
Mrs Scott-Hooper said she still mourns the loss of her “amazing, beautiful and intelligent Lauren”.
She said her daughter was just starting her journey into adulthood and she was ambitious and “just too busy to die”. She added: “Her life would have been wonderful, I am sure of that.”
She said it was only right that someone had been found responsible for her awful death.
Exeter Crown Court heard that Miss Scott volunteered to help out at Mr Carpenter’s 4ha smallholding at Dawlish, Devon.
She was killed when her hair and clothes were entangled in a PTO shaft running at 540 revolutions a minute.
The PTO was connected to an antiquated milling machine used to crush animal feed – but its plastic cover was broken and did not cover the revolving shaft.
Miss Scott was dragged into the machine by her hair and clothes on 4 March last year. She died from multiple injuries.
Prosecutor David Sapiecha told the court that a cursory glance at the PTO would have shown the defects with the plastic cover designed to stop anything getting caught.
‘Cost-cutting at expense of safety’
Mr Sapiecha said Mr Carpenter was guilty of “cost-cutting at the expense of safety” and after the fatal incident Health and Safety investigators banned him from using 11 pieces of his farm equipment because of similar faults with the PTOs.
Mr Carpenter admitted two health and safety offences – one in relation to Miss Scott and the second in 2015 for allowing girls to ride quad bikes on his land without wearing helmets.
He was jailed for eight months for those offences, but the jail terms will run concurrently with the four-and-a-half years.
Speaking after sentencing, Det Insp Steve Davies, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said Mr Carpenter showed a “complete disregard” for safety rules. He added: “It all comes down to a £75 cover for the shaft.”