Much-loved man died after accident at Chatsworth, coroner rules

A much-loved volunteer died as a result of an accident following a motorcycle crash at Chatsworth International Horse Trials, a coroner has ruled.

Thursday, 15th June 2017, 11:30 am
Updated Monday, 19th June 2017, 12:46 pm
The late Frederick Bolton. Picture submitted by family.

Frederick Bolton, 78, of Lound Road, Sheffield, died in hospital nearly a month after suffering 'catastrophic' injuries at the Ice House obstacle in May, 2013.

At Chesterfield coroners' court on Wednesday, coroner James Newman said: "Mr Bolton, an experienced trail rider, was volunteering at the Chatsworth International Horse Trials on May 11 and May 12, 2013, as a collector of fence judge scores.

"He had travelled the course repeatedly on May 11 but on May 12, for some reason unknown and unidentified reason, he had taken a slightly different course up a slope.

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"At the summit he was presented with a sudden drop.

"He was travelling at low speed and the momentum carried Mr Bolton and his motorcycle into the drop, where he sustained catastrophic injuries.

"Mr Bolton died as a result of those injuries at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield at 3.10am on June 2, 2013."

Mr Newman recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

Last July, Mr Bolton's widow, Pam, slammed a decision to dismiss a health and safety case involving his death.

Derbyshire Dales District Council had been prosecuting Chatsworth House Trust and horse trial organiser Felicity Reason.

During a trial, Leicester Crown Court heard how Mr Bolton had been collecting results on May 12, 2013, when he crashed over a 1.2-metre drop when there had not been warning signs, fencing or related paperwork.

However, Recorder William Harbage QC accepted there was no case to answer on the grounds Mr Bolton was responsible for his safety and other riders did not regard the obstacle as dangerous.

After the case was thrown out, Ms Bolton said: "We don't feel justice has been served.

"We still feel there is a case to answer.

"I have lost my husband and his daughter Emma has lost her father - we have suffered unbelievably during the last three years.

"He was our rock."

Prosecuting barrister Michael Auty QC told how Mr Bolton went over a blind drop and his motorcycle landed on him and he suffered a fractured spine.

Mrs Bolton added: "He had been left paralysed from the neck down.

"It was torture and he died three weeks after the incident."

Mr Auty argued the defendants had not considered Mr Bolton's safety and there had been a failure to identify and manage a risk and the death had been avoidable.

But defence barrister James Maxwell-Scott, representing Chatsworth, argued Mr Bolton had engaged in an activity with dangers and was responsible for his own safety and riders indicated the Ice House was not considered dangerous.

Defence barrister Simon Antrobus, representing Ms Reason, said no-one expected this obstacle to be covered by the defendants.

Recorder Harbage QC directed the jury to find the defendants not guilty.

Chatsworth House Trust was found not guilty of failing to ensure the safety of employees and non-employees and failing to ensure they would not be exposed to risk.

Ms Reason was found not guilty of failing to ensure the safety of non-employees and that they would not be exposed to a risk.