The head gardener at Limpley Stoke’s Conkwell Grange estate died in a tragic accident when the tractor he had worked with for 40 years crushed him, an inquest heard.

The jury returned a narrative verdict on the death of Alistair Hislop, 67, during the hearing at Trowbridge Town Hall last Thursday.

Mr Hislop, who lived in Priory Close, Bradford on Avon, had worked on the estate since leaving school.

He was crushed by a Massey Ferguson 65 tractor at 4.47pm on March 28 this year.

A medical report, read out by Ian Singleton, the Assistant Deputy Coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, stated that he had died of asphyxiation and blunt chest trauma.

His colleague, Yuriy Oberemok, saw Mr Hislop chasing the tractor after it began rolling as he unloaded branches from a trailer attached to it.

Mr Oberemok ran to aid Mr Hislop, reaching him as the tractor crashed into a tree with the gardener under the vehicle’s rear left wheel.

He said: “When I tried to reverse the tractor, I shouted for help and I couldn’t move the tractor.”

The hearing was told that the vehicle, which had no history of major faults, was jammed in gear.

That was more than likely to have been due to the damage it suffered during its impact with the tree, which had made it impossible to move.

Following Mr Hislop’s death, the Health and Safety Executive carried out a investigation to find out how the incident happened.

HSE inspector Andrew Shaw said: “In my opinion and that of my colleagues, the parking brake was not fully applied.

“There is no evidence of the tractor having any mechanical defect.

“You would have to summarise he was trying to stop the tractor and apply the brake.

“The advice that we would give would be not to remount a tractor, or any other vehicle, that is rolling away.”

Mr Hislop’s siblings, John Hislop and Margaret Rand, were at the hearing and wanted to thank friends and relatives for support after their brother’s death.

Mr Hislop said: “He was a very gentle person and the violent nature of his death is very hard to take.”

Coroner Mr Singleton said: “I’d like to thank the jury for their attendance and I’m sure you will join me in sending out condolences to the family of Mr Hislop on their sad loss.”