AN auction mart has been ordered to pay more than £26,000 after an employee was killed by a raging bull.

Seventy-year-old Martin Leverton, died after the animal turned on him while he was trying to load it onto a lorry alongside four cows.

During a recent hearing, Preston Magistrates' Court heard how Mr Leverton had been helping to move the livestock with another man when the tragedy occurred at Gisburn Auction Mart in August 2017.

It is understood that as he was trying to load the animals into the vehicle, the bull turned and attacked Mr Leverton causing fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there weren’t any suitable refuges or barriers within the loading area for those handling the livestock to shelter behind, if for example, cattle became fractious.

Gisburn Auction Marts Ltd of The Auction Mart, Gisburn, Clitheroe, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,819, for a total amount of more than £26,000, for failing to discharge its general health, safety and welfare duty to an employee.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Anthony Banks said: “This incident could so easily have been prevented.

"The bull was able to strike the employee because (Mr Leverton) had been unable to outrun or out-manoeuvre the bull, and he was unable to seek protection from any form of refuge or barrier when it began to charge.

“The company should have undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to identify, and put in place, the appropriate control measures.”

In tributes paid at the time, the former farmer was described by his family as 'a wonderful man' who had been 'doing the job he loved'.

Richard Turner, secretary and auctioneer of Gisburn Auction Marts Ltd said Mr Leverton had worked as a member of the yard staff for more than 20 years and was a good and well-liked man.

In 2017, he said: “We are all very emotional and in a state of shock.

“It is a terrible tragedy.

“The driver of the wagon was very, very distraught. As far as we are concerned everything was in order.

“We follow strict guidelines laid down by the National Farming Union.

“We expect a health and safety and a police investigation.”

Following the recent court hearing, the auction mart had no further comment.