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29 January 2013 15:20:24|News

Farmer 'died from stress' on eve of court case


Agricultural lawyer David Kirwan

Agricultural lawyer David Kirwan

The son of a farmer who died on the eve of his legal appeal against Cheshire East Borough Council has blamed his death on the stress of the case.

Eric David Cowen, 65, from Midfield Farm in Lyme Handley, Kettleshume, Cheshire, died on Tuesday, January 22, after suffering from an aneurism which stemmed from an ongoing heart condition.

He was due to appear in court the following day to appeal against the seizure of animals from his farm by Cheshire East Borough Council on the grounds of contested Animal Welfare Act issues.

Now Stephen, 40, has spoken of the 'unbelievable' stress the case put on his father, and his belief that it was that pressure which led to Cowen’s death.

Stephen, who along with his father was represented by agricultural lawyer David Kirwan from North West law firm Kirwans, said: "My dad was devastated at the thought that he might lose everything, and I am in no doubt that it was this fear, combined with the extreme stress which taking on a public sector organisation such as Cheshire East Borough Council involves, which resulted in his untimely death."

Despite the death of Cowen, the case went ahead the next day, and following extensive negotiations, Mr Kirwan arranged a settlement which was agreed by Cheshire East Borough Council, represented by Dr Christopher McNall.

Kirwan said: "No matter what the outcome, this would always have been a tragic case because it involved the death of a man – a father, a husband, and a member of the farming community. However, Stephen Cowen found the strength, less than 24 hours after the death of his father, to appear in court, and we were able to come to an agreement with the opposing party."

"As we head towards a triple-dip recession, the life of a farmer has never been more difficult and they need the help and support of government bodies. The positive outcome of this case should help Stephen Cowen to move forward, despite trying economic times for the farming community."

Concluding the case, District Judge Nicholas Sanders spoke of his satisfaction at the fact that the parties had come to a settlement.


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