A judge has handed a suspended sentence to a farmer following the death of his 4-year-old nephew.
Brian Nutter, with an address at Tynedale Shippon, Newchurch-in-Pendle, Lancashire, appeared before Wigan Magistrates’ Court on Monday, March 7th, 2022.
The court heard that on July 8th, 2019, Harry Lee was riding on the cab footplate of a telescopic handler that Brian was operating at a farm in Newchurch-in-Pendle.
As the vehicle turned into a field, the child fell from the footplate and was fatally crushed beneath the wheels.
A Health and Safety Executive-led investigation found Nutter had “insufficient” measures in place to ensure children’s safety on-farm.
The Prevention of Accidents to Children in Agriculture Regulations 1998, prohibits children under the age of 13 from riding on, or operating, vehicles used in agricultural operations.
Furthermore, according to the HSE, no one, including children, should ride on the footplate of any agricultural machine.
Nutter pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The judge handed him a 26-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months and a community order. This included 250 hours of unpaid work.
Furthermore, the judge ordered him to pay costs to the tune of £5,154.
A change in attitude in agriculture
Following the court case, Sarah Nutter, the mother of a four-year-old boy, who fell from a farm vehicle and was run over sustaining fatal injuries, has called for a change in attitude in agriculture.
She said that losing a child at any age is a traumatic experience. However, losing a child in such deeply tragic circumstances is “completely life-changing”.
“The event of Harry’s death has and will have a lasting effect that I and my family will never get over.”
“Farming is a lifestyle and a way of life. If we could go back and make different decisions and do things differently, we would certainly do so. We have had to learn the hard way.”
“The dangers to children on farms are often not appreciated when you live with them. However, they should be at the forefront of all our minds every single day.”
She hopes that the impacts of Harry’s accident will change the attitude of people living on farms.
Furthermore, she hopes it will make them think twice about the dangers their children are exposed to and how easily accidents can be avoided.
Martin Lee, the child’s father, said: “Harry, so passionate about farming, even at four-years-old, was very much my legacy, the person who would take on the farm.”
“Always smiling, Harry had a love for life that brought joy to all those around him and certainly lived his life to the full.”
Martin described Harry as a loving, caring, kind and bright child that was full of affection for his family.
He said: “It is a tragedy that he was needlessly taken from us too soon. His death has traumatised and deeply impacted the whole family.”
‘Wholly’ avoidable incident
After the hearing, HSE inspector, Shellie Bee, described the incident as “deeply sad and upsetting” for all involved.
She said the four-year-old lost his life in a “wholly avoidable” incident that a failure to protect him from farm work activities caused.
“Harry should not have been in the workplace nor allowed to ride on farm machinery,” she said.
“The best way to keep children safe, particularly young children, is to keep them out of the farm workplace altogether.”
“If taken onto the farm, to working areas, this must be carefully planned. The child should be fully supervised by a responsible adult who is not engaged in any other activity.”
She said that farms “can appear to be exciting places”. However, they are busy workplaces with moving machinery and vehicles, livestock, chemicals, and many other “significant” hazards.
Bee highlighted that each year, children are killed, and many more are seriously injured as a result of farming work.
“Often, the child is a close relative to those managing and running the farm.”
She highlighted that in addition to the general health and safety duties to protect children, there is a specific law that prohibits children under the age of 13 years from riding on or operating agricultural vehicles used during agricultural operations.
Concluding, she said: “Harry’s family hope that their story will make the wider farming community take steps to fully protect the safety of any child who may be on the farm.”
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