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Farmer jailed after woman, 20, killed when she was dragged into unprotected machinery by her hair

Neil Carpenter, 45, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison after he oversaw 'appalling' safety standards at Springfield Farm which led to the death of Lauren Scott.

Lauren, 20, was killed when her hair became entangled in a 'dangerous' 540rpm Power Take Off  (PTO) shaft attached to the back of a tractor.

A plastic sleeve which should have covered the spinning device was dented and exposed the shaft – and would have cost just £75 to replace, the trial heard.

The jury was told the milling machine it powered was also "antiquated and dangerous."

Carpenter, of Dawlish, Devon, said he was working in the stables when Lauren activated the PTO and tractor without his permission.

But when police examined Lauren's phone they found crucial footage which showed Carpenter sat in the tractor probably operating the mill shortly before she died.

The prosecution in his trial at Exeter Crown Court said it was proof Carpenter used the mill that day and was criminally responsible for her death.

He was found guilty of her manslaughter by gross negligence by the jury on Monday and returned to court today for sentencing.

Mr Justice James Dingemans said the PTO posed an "obvious risk of entrapment and death".

He said Carpenter had 'panicked' and told the emergency services a false version of events which he was stuck with at trial.

"I'm sure Mr Carpenter couldn't bring himself to acknowledge his role in what happened out of panic," he said.

He added: "He was happy to farm using old machinery and this created a wholly avoidable risk of death. But he didn't process that risk."

"No sentence which I can pass will reflect the loss suffered and will continue to suffer by Lauren Scott's family."

Lauren, who lived in Kenton, Devon, died from multiple injuries on March 4 2017.

She died when she was caught by her hair and clothes in the PTO shaft. The effect was 'instantaneous and catastrophic'.

The plastic sleeve, which should have covered the PTO, was broken and left the knuckles of the shaft exposed.

The defendant was alone with Lauren on the farm when she died. He told police he heard a bang and found Lauren on the ground.

The large metal milling machine, which was made before World War One, was on its side close by.

He called 999 at 1.17pm and the air ambulance, police and fire engines arrived soon after. Lauren died of multiple injuries at the scene.

Carpenter said he had no knowledge the milling machine was being used by Lauren.

He did not even think it was working at the time. But a small amount of barley had been bruised for cattle just before Lauren died.

He lied to police about the sequence of events on the day Lauren died in order to escape responsibility.

However, when police examined her phone they found a crucial piece of evidence – a video taken by Lauren 28 minutes before she died showed Carpenter in the background using the tractor.

Prosecutor Mr David Sapiecha said Carpenter's 'cost-cutting' and failure to invest in the simplest safety measures was to blame.

Carpenter admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to protect Lauren from risks.

He told the trial: "I've made mistakes. I'm now fully aware of those mistakes. I'm truly sorry about those mistakes. Words fail me they really do."

Speaking after the verdict Ben Scott, Lauren's brother, said her death could have been prevented if Carpenter had spent £75 on a new plastic sleeve for the PTO shaft.

"As was highlighted on numerous occasions throughout the trial the presence of a £75 PTO cover would have ensured Lauren would still be with us today."

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