The step-grandfather of tragic Kane Morris died in a farm accident which could have been avoided if he had pulled on the handbrake of his forklift.
Graham Shaw, who was the step-father of Kane’s killer dad Karl, was crushed by the machine at a farm near Coupar Angus just months before the 10-year-old was killed.
A sheriff in a fatal accident inquiry has now ruled Mr Shaw’s death was avoidable after hearing he routinely failed to use the handbrake on the vehicle.
Prosecutors in his stepson’s High Court trial said Mr Shaw’s death had had an adverse effect on him.
A fatal accident inquiry at Perth Sheriff Court into the 2018 tragedy heard that Mr Shaw, a director of Peattie Farms Ltd, Coupar Angus, where the accident occurred, had entered the barn alone to use the machine to move half-tonne fertiliser bags.
By the time the 54-year-old was found by a colleague he was already dead as a result of traumatic asphyxiation.
The inquiry heard he must have accidentally knocked the gear lever while climbing out of the cab with the engine still running, having not pulled up the handbrake.
This engaged a forward gear, causing the machine to move forwards and trap Mr Shaw between it and the wall.
Sheriff Lindsay Foulis, who presided over the inquiry in July, said in a written judgment: “A precaution which could reasonably have been taken and might realistically have resulted in the said accident being avoided was the deceased applying the handbrake prior to his exiting the cab.”
The inquiry heard that according to his wife, Mrs Kay Shaw, 60, Mr Shaw often left handbrakes off.
Sheriff Foulis said: “The point regarding non-application of the handbrake was spoken to by Mrs Kay Shaw in her deposition.
“She detailed that the deceased did not always apply the handbrake when driving a car or pick up and was in the habit of leaving them in gear.
“Indeed, she later commented in her deposition that he usually did not apply a handbrake and referred to entering vehicles after the deceased had used them to find the vehicle in gear and the handbrake not always applied.”
The inquiry also heard that the handbrake had not been working efficiently “for a number of months”, though it would still have forced the machine into neutral if applied.
Sheriff Foulis called for the official consideration of the introduction of “some sort of inspection and maintenance regime, in effect the equivalent of an MoT” for farm machinery, adding: “If the handbrake had been applied, irrespective of its effectiveness, the accident would not have occurred.”
The sheriff offered his condolences to Mr Shaw’s family.
The National Farmers’ Union Scotland said earlier this year of the tragedy: “Deaths like this bring a catalogue of heartbreak and misery to Scottish families.”
Mr Shaw was a leading curler and a stalwart of the Mercure Perth Masters, which attracts stars from all over the world.
Organisers said his death had left a “large gaping hole” in the Perth Masters tournament.
A curling award – the Graham Shaw Spirit of Curling Award – was created in his memory.
Second tragedy for family in 2018
Just months after Mr Stewart’s death, the family was hit by a second tragedy when his stepson Karl Morris stabbed his 10-year-old son Kane to death.
However, despite being stabbed once in the chest and five times in the back, Kane attempted to reach a room in which an eight-year-old girl was sleeping.
She survived the incident and spent four weeks in hospital.
Morris then stabbed himself several times before throwing himself out the window of his flat in the town’s Union Street.
Morris had five stab wounds, a fractured left femur, a fractured pelvis and rib injuries, all of which were self-inflicted.
When questioned by detectives Morris said: “I was taking them to a better place away from evil,” adding: “I’ve done a horrible thing.”
The 39-year-old admitted to a reduced charge of culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility at the High Court in Glasgow in June.
He also admitted a charge of attempted murder against the girl and a third charge of possessing cannabis on November 11 last year.
He was sentenced to 16 years in jail at the High Court in Aberdeen last month.
Clinical professionals told the court that a combination of Morris’s personal history and his time in the military could have led to the “catastrophic and impulsive” act.
Judge Lord Mulholland praised Kane, saying: “It seems to me Kane showed incredible bravery and self-sacrifice.
“Having sustained these life-ending injuries, rather than himself being his primary concern, his concern was for the girl.”
Morris, who was in the Army for five years, worked as a farmhand in the family business in Coupar Angus.