Woman trampled to death by cattle at Linchmere Common, inquest hears

Hilary Adair Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Hilary Adair was 87 when she was attacked by cows

An 87-year-old woman was knocked to the ground and killed by a herd of “berserk” cattle, an inquest has heard.

Hilary Adair was trampled on by Belted Galloway cattle and repeatedly attacked as she tried to get up at Linchmere Common in West Sussex on 7 January.

She was flown to hospital but never regained consciousness and died a week later.

A conclusion of accidental death was recorded at the inquest in Crawley.

The fatal cattle assault came just a day after a couple and their dogs were chased and injured by the same animals.

But the inquest was told that those responsible for the animals were not immediately conscious of the seriousness of the attack, viewing it as an “isolated incident”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hilary Adair was attacked by a herd of Belted Galloway cattle

Bryony Dillamore witnessed the attack on Mrs Adair and said the cattle became more aggressive each time she moved.

Mrs Adair was airlifted to St George’s Hospital, London, but died from her injuries on 14 January.

Rachel Thompson told the inquest how she and her husband Carl were set upon by the same herd the day before Mrs Adair was attacked.

Mr Thompson, who was left bleeding from his injuries, said the cattle had “gone berserk”.

The cattle were moved to another area of the common and plans were made to check on the situation the following morning.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The inquest into Mrs Adair’s death took place at Crawley Coroner’s Court

The next day Mrs Adair and her dog were attacked.

The Lynchmere Society and Lynchmere Community Grazing CIC, who own the land and are responsible for the cattle, said in a joint statement: “Very serious discussion between our organisations and ongoing dialogue with the family and our membership within the community will be had going forward before any decision regarding future grazing activities on the commons are made.”

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield said: “We will never really know what prompted either the attack on Mr and Mrs Thompson or on Mrs Adair.

“Mrs Adair was particularly vulnerable. She really didn’t stand a chance against a herd of agitated cows.”

She said she hoped Mrs Adair’s death raises awareness of the dangers of cattle if they are antagonised.

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