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The owner of a carriage horse that bolted into crowds at a country fair, killing a woman, has avoided a prison sentence.

Carole Bullett, who was 57 and registered blind, died of chest injuries after being hit by the horse and wagon at Nowton Park Country Fair in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk on Sunday, 19 June 2011.

Earlier this week (13 January) the horse’s owner, Duncan Drye — who had been running carriage rides at the fair — was sentenced to carry out 200 hours of community work by a judge at Ipswich Crown Court.

He had admitted breaching health and safety law.

The judge, David Goodin, described the accident as a “tragedy”.

He said Drye had been careless after failing to make sure that the carriage rides were separated from members of the public at the fair. Drye had also allowed an inexperienced groom to do some of the carriage driving that day, he added.

“These are culpable failings, but not failings that warrant custody,” said the judge.

The horse, called Lucas, was rising four at the time of the accident. He has since been euthanased, due to a worm infestation.

Malcolm Crowther of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Mrs Bullett’s death had been “entirely preventable”.

“Because Mr Drye failed to take the necessary safety precautions, one woman needlessly lost her life and a number of others were injured,” he said.

“Horse and carriage rides can be run safely provided the proper control measures are in place.

“It is vital that operators are adequately trained and assessed before they are allowed to operate a ride in public, that adequate risk assessments are carried out and the ride is safely segregated from the public,” he added.

The local council, which organised the fair, was cleared of health and safety offences last year.