Farmer’s death probed in fatal accident inquiry

editorial image

A fatal accident inquiry has been told that Borders farmer Jim Sharp was killed after being dragged into a grain auger by his shoe lace.

The 66-year-old sheep breeder died on his farm at Newbigging Walls near Lauder on March 17.

The inquiry at Selkirk Sheriff Court was told he died of multiple injuries after entering a silo containing several feet of barley.

Mr Sharp was a prominent breeder of Blackface sheep and a former livestock convener of NFU Scotland.

He was also a former captain of Melrose Rugby Club.

In a statement read to the hearing, Sergeant Graeme Shearer – a disaster victim identification officer with Police Scotland – said he’d been called to the farm to recover the body from the silo and that there were no suspicious circumstances.

He explained how he located and cut the metal auger blade and unwound damaged clothing from the screw.

And the sergeant concluded that a boot lace was the first thing that had become entangled with the rotating blade.

Hazel Dobb, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, said the electricity supply should have been isolated before the silo was entered to remove the power from the auger.

She said Mr Sharp was self-employed with no employees and no enforcement action was required.

Procurator fiscal Louise Graham, in her summing up, told Sheriff Peter Paterson: “The cause of the accident is that Mr Sharp appears to have entered the grain silo, but there is no evidence as to why that is the case.

“There may well have been a problem with the sweep auger on that date. When in the grain silo, his boot lace became entangled with the sweep auger.”

She said it was not known how the lace came into contact with the auger.

Delivering his determination, Sheriff Peter Paterson said the cause of death was multiple injuries after Mr Sharp’s body became entangled with the auger. He made no recommendations.

Sheriff Paterson extended his sympathies to Mr Sharp’s wife Obie and two children who were in court for the 15 minute hearing.