Hawke’s Bay was a witness to some of New Zealand’s highest profile crimes and trials during 2014. Court reporter Sam Hurley looks at the year’s top 10 cases.

A tragic case of a young boy and his grisly death after being run over by a tractor mower shocked Hawke's Bay and New Zealand, as sympathy poured out for the youngster's family and an elderly driver asking for forgiveness.

The incident occurred at Kirkpatrick Park in Hastings on October 8, 2013, when three children, aged 10, 8 and 4-year-old Uetaha Dahtanian Ransfield-Wanoa began chasing the machine.

"You stopped, turned around to them, called out to them to stop, tooted your horn, waved and tried to shout them off, but despite your best efforts they continued to chase the mower," Judge Jonathan Down told the driver during his sentencing on July 11.

As the driver continued to cut the field, Uetaha grew tired and sat down on a patch of freshly mown grass, before running towards the tractor.

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Witnesses said Uetaha was about 35-40m away when he began running and "side-stepped" towards the tractor before trying to step back, but it was too late. He was sucked under the mower.

The accident shocked the region and sent the suburb of Camberley, where Kirkpatrick Park is located, into mourning.

The events which followed, beginning with the driver being charged on January 15, created a storm of emotion as citizens vented their anger, sadness and sympathy for the driver and Uetaha's family.

At a Napier District Court hearing on May 26, to the shock of many, the driver pleaded guilty to driving a vehicle dangerously.

The driver was sentenced to six months' home detention, 100 hours of community work, was disqualified from driving for three years and ordered to pay $5000 reparation.

Uetaha's mother, Aliza Wanoa, told the court her son was "her main man" and eldest child, known as "Bubbies".

She said Uetaha's sister had a "big hole in her heart" and Uetaha had been looking forward to making friends when he started at Kura Kaupapa o Heretaunga School in Hastings.

She said she was angry there had been no justice for the boy who loved spiders and dinosaurs, and wept uncontrollably when the driver's sentence was read.

The driver was granted permanent name suppression on the grounds that publication of his image would cause him extreme hardship and endanger his safety. It was also revealed during the case the driver was suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident had brought the death of his 3-year-old son in a farming accident.

The elderly man had been with the council for 13 years and was a senior driver, but had not mowed council land since the incident. He continued to be employed by the council throughout the court case, while performing other duties, but retired on June 6.

He wrote a letter of regret which was read before the court by his lawyer, Andru Isac.

"Words cannot say how sorry I am for this terrible accident that we will have to live with for the rest of our lives."

He said not a day went by that he didn't think about the 4-year-old and he was sorry to have "robbed" the family's joy of seeing Uetaha go to school.

"I would do anything to change it - I can only ask that one day you can look into your hearts to forgive me. But I totally understand if you do not."

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said there were "no winners" from an extremely sad event that "robbed a family of a young child" and the council of an experienced worker.

The Hastings District Council is also being prosecuted over the death by the Government's workplace safety agency, WorkSafe New Zealand.

THE CASE
• Uetaha Dahtanian Ransfield-Wanoa, 4, was killed when he was struck by a Hastings District Council tractor mower in October 2013. Police, government and council investigations were all launched as a result.

• On January 15 last year, the 73-year-old tractor driver, who has permanent name suppression, was charged with driving a vehicle dangerously. On May 26 he pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to six months' home detention, 100 hours' community work, was disqualified from driving for three years and ordered to pay $5000 reparation.

Quote of the case: Judge Jonathan Down to the driver: "You stopped, turned around to them, called out to them to stop, tooted your horn, waved and tried to shout them off but, despite your best efforts, they continued to chase the mower."GRIEF: The tragedy shocked a community.