Three-year-old died after being hit by pick-up truck on farm, inquest told

Anthony Pritchard-Allen

A three-year-old boy was run over and killed by a pick-up truck used by hisfather after the ignition key was accidentally turned while the vehicle wasstill in gear, an inquest has heard.

Anthony Pritchard-Allen, known as AJ, had been taken by his mother Tanya Allen to visit his father Joseph Pritchard at the end of his shift at the farm where he worked near Soham, Cambridgeshire.

Assistant coroner Simon Milburn told Tuesday's hearing in Huntingdon that this was a "fairly regular occurrence" as Mr Pritchard worked long hours as a gamekeeper.

He said that while Ms Allen left the farm for a "very brief period" MrPritchard went to refuel a Toyota Hilux pick-up truck from a tank in thefarmyard.

"It seems that during this refuelling process the vehicle was left in gear andwhen the ignition was subsequently turned on the Toyota moved forward, striking AJ who was stood in front of it," Mr Milburn said.

AJ was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where he was pronounced dead at 9pm on April 20 last year. He was struck at around 7.30pm.

A post-mortem examination recorded his medical cause of death as blunttraumatic injuries to the head, chest and abdomen.The inquest, which was heard with a jury as the incident happened at a place of work, concluded that AJ's death was an accident.

Farm owner Nigel Howe said that the farm vehicle was for use by all workers but was predominantly used by Mr Pritchard.He described Mr Pritchard, who lived three quarters of a mile from the pheasant breeding farm, as an "excellent worker".

Pc Simon Burgin, a forensic collision investigator, said: "I believe AJ wastowards the front of the vehicle and the ignition sequence has begun."He said AJ was first struck by the truck's number plate then forced under the vehicle and run over by its offside rear tyre.

The truck's handbrake had been left off, he said, adding: "It's not unusual,particularly with farm vehicles. "They don't tend to use the handbrake; they leave them in gear. It's something that they do."

He said that tests were carried out on the pick-up truck after the accident and it was found that it would propel itself forward unaided if the ignition key was turned while the vehicle was left in first or second gear.

No mechanical defects were found.

Mr Burgin confirmed to the coroner that no offences were being investigated.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Roxanne Barker said: "No-one else was working on the farm at this time of day." She said no health and safety breaches were identified.

Mr Milburn expressed his condolences to AJ's family, including his mother and father who attended the hearing.

Speaking after the hearing, AJ's mother Ms Allen described her son as an"outdoor boy" who "loved being outside with tractors, dogs, horses, diggingin mud, anything that included getting messy"