Farmworker convicted for bale accident that injured cyclist

A Devon farmworker has been convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving after failing to secure a load of straw bales, which fell on to a cyclist causing him permanent brain damage.

Matthew Shapcott, 39, from Silverton, was convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving after pleading guilty at Exeter Crown Court.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and told to complete 140 hours of unpaid work.

See also: Road rules reminder: Trailer safety, tractor speed and licences

On 2 August 2019, Mr Shapcott loaded a trailer with the straw bales and failed to secure them to the trailer, despite having ratchet straps in the vehicle, the court was told.

While driving along a road in Netherexe, near Exeter, one of the bales fell from the trailer, striking passing cyclist Kenneth Bridle, who suffered life-changing injuries as a result.

Mr Bridle, a 69-year-old retired train driver, suffered a bleed on the brain and was in a coma for 13 days.

He sustained numerous other injuries including two fractures to his spine.

He will never recover from the brain damage, which has caused partial blindness.

Secure your load

Roads policing officer PC Aaron Hamilton-Schaschke, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “This devastating incident was all entirely avoidable if [Mr] Shapcott had simply secured the load.

“The victim’s quality of life and independence has been severely impaired.

“[Mr] Shapcott’s lax attitude to what was a simple but essential safety measure has had a catastrophic impact upon the victim, who has been robbed of what should have been a relaxing retirement.

“This incident should serve as a reminder to motorists to ensure they secure their loads, whatever it is they are transporting, wherever they are going, when travelling on public roads, so tragedies such as this are avoided.”