UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Tuesday 18 June 2024
 8.1°C   NNW Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

News / FAI hears of human tragedy involving cow

A SHETLAND crofter died when a pregnant cow jumped on top of her and repeatedly kicked its legs, a fatal accident inquiry at Lerwick Sheriff Court heard on Friday.

Patricia Wishart passed away at around 4.30pm on 6 March last year at the croft she had run with her husband in Tumblin, Bixter for four decades.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said a post-mortem confirmed that the 62 year old died from chest and abdominal injuries.

He suggested that the tragic death stemmed from a “human decision” in an occupation fraught with “inherent” danger.

The inquiry heard from a member of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who believed that there could have been different consequences if the cow’s pen was more robustly secured and if Mrs Wishart didn’t attend to the animal face-on.

Mackenzie called a total of three witnesses to give evidence, including two police staff who dealt with the case at the time.

The inquiry was told that Mrs Wishart checked on a cow, which was close to giving birth, in a pen in a byre.

She climbed through a large gap in railings by ducking under the pen’s top pole, but the “startled” cow jumped on Mrs Wishart and pinned her down.

The inquiry heard that as the cow attempted to regain its footing, it repeatedly kicked its legs, hitting Mrs Wishart in the process.

She was found stuck under the cow by her husband Robert, who attempted to bat away the animal before trying in vain to save her with CPR.

Their two grandchildren then came into the byre before Mr Wishart told them to leave because he knew it was too late to save his wife.

He did not call for an ambulance and instead phoned for a doctor, with Caroline Hinton soon arriving.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


An HSE staff member suggested that the byre was arranged in an “ad-hoc” way that would not be recommended by the organisation, with scaffolding poles forming pens.

He said that the gap between two railings on the pen in question was large enough to allow the cow to kick its legs through, and that the animal could move freely because of a loose tether.

Wishart also attended to the cow head-on, which increased the likelihood of the animal reacting in defence, especially as it was pregnant.

Summing up, Mackenzie suggested that complacency with farming methods wasn’t an issue.

He said the incident was a “human tragedy” with “horrific circumstances”.

Mackenzie noted the “sad irony” of the fatal accident inquiry being held during the National Farmers Union’s safety awareness week.

Sheriff Philip Mann said he hoped to make a written judgement on the matter as soon as possible.

He also extended his “sincere condolences” to Mrs Wishart’s family for their “tragic and untimely loss”.


Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.