A RETIRED Oxford professor who has a ward named after him at Oxford Children's Hospital was trampled to death by a herd of cows as he tried to save his dog from a stampede.

Professor Brian Bellhouse had been walking his pet dog Baldrick with a close friend when 20 cows and calves suddenly stampeded at them.

At an inquest yesterday, a coroner heard how the 80-year-old's black, frail Labrador became trapped underneath the herd.

The pensioner tried to save his pet, but was thrown to the ground and trampled by the cattle. While his friend escaped and raised the alarm, the elderly academic had been crushed beneath the spooked animals for many minutes before help arrived.

An emergency helicopter, an ambulance with two paramedics on board and a police car all rushed to the scene but despite desperate efforts to save his life, Prof. Bellhouse died from his injuries at his farm on Church Lane in Guestling, East Sussex.

Prof. Bellhouse heavily supported Oxford Children's Hospital where there is now a Bellhouse-Drayson ward.

His invention of a needle-less drug-injection gun made famous and also fortune.

Close friend John Clarke, 61, told the inquest that he had been walking with Prof. Bellhouse with his own puppy on a lead when the tragedy happened. The retired policeman, from Ashford Road in Hastings, said: "The cattle were used to Baldrick and the pup was kept on a lead.

"We got in the field at the bottom and got about 50 yards up the field when we saw the 10 cows and their 10 calves. As we got closer they started to come towards us. Baldrick tried to get out of the way but they started to trample him. Brian went in to try to get Baldrick out and the next I knew, Brian was knocked flat. They were milling around and treading on him. He just could not get up.

"I went in to try to rescue Brian but I got booted in the chest. I got trampled for a couple of minutes before I got out. I dragged the little pup with me."

Police said they arrived to find Prof. Bellhouse lying face-up on the ground with injuries to his legs, chest and torso. About six foot away from his body was Baldrick, who was injured and bleeding from his mouth.

Concluding the inquest, Senior Coroner for East Sussex, Alan Craze, said the cause of death was a crush injury to the chest.

He added: "Cows are dangerous, especially when dogs are being walked near them.

"What has happened is very sad indeed."

Prof. Bellhouse was a pioneering medical engineer and founded one of the most successful Oxford University spin out companies.

His needle-less drug-injection gun invention lead to a US firm buying his company for £542m.

He described his PowderJect invention as being of 'Star Trek' like technology, similar to that used by Leonard 'Bones' McCoy in the science fiction show.

He set up Oxford University's medical engineering unit and ran it until his retirement in 2004.

Mr Bellhouse played football and cricket for local and college teams into his 50s and also completed a double Atlantic sailing crossing with his sister and brother-in-law in 2004.

He is survived by his wife Elisabeth, his seven children and 21 grandchildren.

Oxford University's Magdalen College paid tribute to him.