Farmer killed by bull ‘lived for his animals’

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A farmer who was killed by a bull in Co Tyrone was a jolly character who loved his cattle so tenderly they were like his family, his minister has said.

Nigel Murray, 54, died after being attacked by his bull at his Aughnacloy farm on Saturday.

PSNI Inspector Keith Jamieson said: “Police attended and after consultation with the vet and members of the family police shot the bull as it posed a risk.”

Police informed the Police Ombudman and said the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) is taking the lead in the investigation.

Rev Ian McKee, of Aughnacloy Presbyterian Church, said Mr Murray had been a single man who lived with his “devastated” older brother Wilfred.

“Nigel was a very jolly chap, a farmer who just lived for his animals,” said Rev McKee. “He had an Ayrshire herd.

“He idolised them to such an extent that he actually had names for each one.

“He would go out and talk to the animals – they were like his family. He just loved them.”

One of the hymns at today’s funeral service will be ‘All things bright and beautiful’ to acknowledge the important place animals played in his life, Rev McKee said.

Cousin Alison McMullan added: “Nigel was always willing to help anyone when they needed it. This has been reciprocated by the wonderful support we have seen from friends and neighbours running the farm since Saturday.

“Nigel was a wonderful brother and cousin – and when his mother was alive he was also a very supportive son.

“We would like to especially thank all the friends and neighbours who have been a tremendous support since Saturday in helping run the farm.”

Rev McKee had himself only moved into the rural area in recent years and was deeply impressed by the supportive community over the weekend.

“Even on Saturday night when the PSNI had the farm cordoned off, waiting for the Health and Safety Executive to arrive, there were 15-20 local farmers waiting patiently to milk Nigel’s cows.

“Then on Sunday morning there were seven or eight farmers there to do the milking again.

“It was great to see his friends and neighbours mucking in like this. He had always been there for other people.”

Nigel and his brother had almost no surviving relatives apart from their cousin Alison, the cleric added.

Nigel had been a member of Aughnacloy Presbyterian Church and a member of the church committee.

He was also on the steering group for the construction of a new church hall.

His brother Wilfred, who is “just devastated” by the tragedy, has asked all funeral donations to go towards the new hall, he added.

When he and his brother did take time away from the farm, they basically travelled somewhere to buy calves, he added.

“Nigel and he had looked after animals all their lives,” Rev McKee said.

“There had been no reason to be concerned about the bull.”

Reports that the fatal incident happened in a field were not accurate, he said.

“It happened in an enclosed yard. He had just let the bull out when it happened.

“He was a very pleasant man who got on with everyone and just lived for his animals – ironically he died by an animal at the end.”

The funeral will take place at Aughnacloy Presbyterian Church today (Tuesday 26 April) at 2pm.