A market gardener who plummeted to his death as he rode in a digger with an unqualified driver at an upmarket organic farm died accidentally, an inquest jury has ruled.
Anthony Cripps, aged 57, was perched in the JCB bucket at the Gloucestershire farm owned by JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford’s wife when he tumbled beneath the wheels.
The former pub landlord, from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was pronounced dead at the scene on June 5 last year.
Driver Gareth Trueman, aged 22, told the inquest he had not received any training to operate the seven-ton machine.
An inquest jury returned an accidental death verdict at Gloucester Shire Hall with a brief narrative verdict outlining the basic details of the death.
Mr Cripps was on his way to pick elderflower at Daylesford Farm, in Daylesford, owned by Lady Carole Bamford, the jury heard.
The vehicle, inscribed with the initials of the company’s founder Joseph Cyril Bamford, Sir Anthony’s father, bore a sign which forbade people riding in the bucket.
But Mr Cripps, from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, and colleague Michael Turner, aged 50, were perched up to 10ft above the ground when the vehicle hit a bump.
A post-mortem revealed that Mr Cripps died as a result of head and chest injuries.
Returning an accidental death with a narrative verdict, the jury foreman told Gloucestershire coroner Alan Crickmore: “The time of death was at approximately 1pm on June 5 at Daylesford Farm, Daylesford, Gloucestershire.
“The death was caused by the deceased being transported as a passenger in the grain bucket attached to a JCB and falling backwards, after the JCB went over uneven ground and falling under the offside front wheel and sustained the injuries as outlined, which resulted in his death.”
On Wednesday, the jury heard Mr Cripps was employed at the Daylesford Organic Farm for less than four months before his death.
After the hearing, Mr Cripps’s family issued a statement criticising the working practices at Daylesford Organic Farm and his employers.
Speaking on behalf of the Cripps family, Stuart Henderson, of law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “This was a particularly horrific workplace fatality, which tragically took the life of a much-loved member of the local Chipping Norton community.
“It is clear to us that this accident could and should have been prevented if proper safety procedures had been followed by his employers.
“In our view, this accident would have been prevented if safe working practices had been followed and a suitable platform or similar equipment provided to pick the elderflowers.
“It was patently unsafe to allow workers to be carried in the open bucket of a moving JCB being driven by an untrained driver.
“Our view is that health and safety training and risk management did not have the attention it deserved at Daylesford at the time and hopefully as a consequence of this tragic accident this will now have changed.
“We are pursuing a claim for damages on behalf of Mr Cripps’s family and the evidence given at the inquest strengthens the claim further, which will be the subject of future court proceedings.”