Council pleads not guilty in child's death

Last updated 09:39 16/07/2014
lawnmower scene
JOHN COWPLAND/ Fairfax NZ

GRISLY SCENE: Police officers examine the scene in Kirkpatrick Park, Hastings, where a four-year-old was run over by a tractor-mower.

flower
Fairfax NZ
Flowers mark the spot where Uetaha Wanoa was killed, a day after the accident.

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The council that employed the lawnmower driver who ran over and killed a 4-year-old has denied a criminal charge.

Hastings District Council entered a not guilty plea through the Hastings District Court yesterday.

Following an investigation, WorkSafe NZ charged the council under the Health and Safety in Employment Act. The act requires employers to "take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of any employee while at work harms any other person".

If found guilty, the council could face a maximum fine of $250,000.

Last week the driver was sentenced to six months' home detention and 100 hours' community work. He had earlier pleaded guilty to reckless driving causing death.

On October 8 last year, Uetaha Dahtanian Ransfield-Wanoa was playing at Kirkpatrick Park with his cousins when he was hit.

Onlookers at the Hastings park said he appeared to be sucked into the mower's blades.

The accident was witnessed by his 8-year-old uncle and other children, who ran to get help. Uetaha died at the scene.

His family described him as a bubbly, cheeky boy with a mischievous grin, who was loved by everyone.

Judge Jonathan Down denied permanent name suppression at last week's sentencing but the man was appealing the ruling.

The man feared that publishing his name would put his health and safety at risk.

He was depressed and had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder since his lawnmower hit Uetaha on October 8 last year. He re-lived the accident over and over with vivid flashbacks, said his lawyer, Andru Isac.

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- The Dominion Post

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