Herd of cows trample man, 67, and his dog to death in East Sussex field 

John McNamara, 67, was killed in a field in Forest Row, East Sussex on Monday.

John McNamara, 67, was killed in a field in Forest Row, East Sussex on Monday.

John McNamara, 67, was killed in a field in Forest Row, East Sussex on Monday.

A father who was trampled to death by a herd of cows has been described as a ‘wonderful man’ and a ‘hero’.  

John McNamara, 67, was killed in a field in Forest Row, East Sussex on Monday.

The retired biology lecturer and tutor had escaped stampeding cows with two of his dogs but went back into the field to save his Golden retriever and was trampled to death.

Alison Read, 57, his wife said: ‘He was a fantastic father and he was a fantastic husband. He was a Chelsea supporter and went by the name of Johnny Blue.

‘His humour could be quite cutting and acerbic but he was never cruel.

‘I’m interested in having a reasonable conversation to say what can be organised to keep members of the public safe because it will happen again.

‘How many have to die before some body says, ‘lets put a little bit of electronic taping up?”

One of his shattered daughters said today: ‘We do want to raise concerns to stop things like this happening again because it was quite a violent death which could have easily been avoided.’ 

The body of John McNamara and his dog were found in this field near Forest Row after they were trampled to death

The body of John McNamara and his dog were found in this field near Forest Row after they were trampled to death

The body of John McNamara and his dog were found in this field near Forest Row after they were trampled to death

Tributes for Mr McNamara poured in today. Friend Koko Easterbrook wrote on Facebook: ‘This man in question actually went above and beyond, getting his other two dogs out of harm’s way before returning to rescue the third who was quite elderly and couldn’t get out of the way fast enough.

‘An absolute hero. Rest in peace John, one of the most brave, golden-hearted (people) I have even known.’

Pensioners at Forest Row Community Centre also paid tribute to Mr McNamara, who volunteered in its kitchen every Thursday.

John Grantham, 83, a retired blacksmith and former farrier for the Horse Artillery, said: ‘It’s just unbelievable that something like this could happen and especially for somebody like John who will have known where he was going.’ 

‘I knew him here and he was a wonderful man, we used to joke together, I used to pull his leg and he would pull mine just as viciously!

‘He had a very good sense of humour, he was just a happy man. 

‘He had three dogs. I’ve seen his dogs – I’ve been to the house. I think they were Labrador type dogs.’

He added: ‘He knew the area, he would have walked there regularly. I would have thought he would have gone through them before so it seems odd that this should have happened. The only thing I can think of is something spooked the cattle.’

The cause of both deaths is yet to be officially confirmed, but it is thought they were trampled by a herd. Stock picture of a cow

The cause of both deaths is yet to be officially confirmed, but it is thought they were trampled by a herd. Stock picture of a cow

The cause of both deaths is yet to be officially confirmed, but it is thought they were trampled by a herd. Stock picture of a cow

Keith Whitlock, a retired academic, said: ‘He volunteered for the community centre – he had done it for years.

‘He would literally come and take out orders and bring us the food.

‘He was very very much liked. He did an excellent job and I suppose one has to say most of the people who serve were women and because he was the only chap he stood out.’ 

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: ‘The bodies of a man and a dog were found in a field on farmland in Priory Road, Forest Row, at 1.45pm on Monday, October 8.

‘The deaths of the 67-year-old and his dog are not being treated as suspicious.

‘The circumstances are being investigated and the coroner’s officer is dealing with the deaths.’

The deaths come two months after 64-year-old Stephen Sandy was trampled to death by his cattle just 15 minutes drive away in Groombridge.

Government statistics show that nearly 80 people have died in accidents involving cattle since 2000 – about four a year.

The majority of victims are farm workers but a quarter are unsuspecting members of the public out walking on footpaths.

The number of attacks by cattle, which can cause injuries as serious as punctured lungs and broken bones, is also significantly unreported because of the lack of awareness around the need to highlight the dangers of being around large livestock.    

Wife Alison said John was wary of cows are they are kept with their calves by the organic farm and could be protective.

She said she did not know about the circumstances of her husband and their death.

Ms Read, a self-employed osteopath, who lives with her 20-year-old daughter Rosalinda McNamara, said the cows who trampled him were with their calves and owned by an organic farm on the outskirts of the town.

Tablehurst Farm adopts a policy where calves are kept with their mothers for nine months – with both bring allowed to graze in fields in the area.

Ms Read said the fields near her home were being used by Tablehurst’s cattle where today (thur) calves and cows were seen in the fields near where Mr McNamara died.

No one was available for comment at Tablehurst Farm today.

Ms Read said: ‘My husband was not stupid. He has walked the dogs around the fields for 14 years.

‘In no way was he responsible. You cannot walk around here without coming across cows and fields and that’s part of the problem.

‘When you’ve done a four-mile walk and you are 50 yards from home you either walk through or walk four miles back.

‘My husband, every single day throughout this time of year dreaded coming across fields of cows.

‘What really saddens me is that his greatest fear was the cows and that fear is realised – they killed him and he hated having to walk through the cows.

‘We never knew where they were because Tablehurst, who owns the cows, move from fields to field and no information is given to the community – they just move the cows.

‘We have dogs – walking isn’t a luxury it’s essential. 

She added: ‘The farmer Christine Pillinger she rents to Tablehurst Farm.

‘Tablehurst haven’t contacted me. I feel quite angry about it, I think the very least they could have sent there condolences.

‘It doesn’t even have to be an apology it’s just an acknowledgement that their cows have killed my husband and my dog.

‘He was a college lecturer, a biology lecturer.

‘He then set up his own business working with unemployed people to get them back into work in the hotel and catering business.

‘He tutored A-level biology and retired two years ago.

‘We are all dog lovers, we have three dogs.

‘Every single day he walked them.’ 

 

 


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