A MULTIPLE world ploughing champion was killed when he was using farming equipment that caused several accidents in the early part of this century, an inquest heard.

Local resident David Stork saw Graeme Witty's tractor and attached mower stationary on a field near his Ryedale home at 11.15am on May 3, 2020.

He thought the retired farmer was having a lunch break, the jury was told.

But the tractor was still there with the engine running when he took his dogs for a walk at 5.30pm, so Mr Stork went to see if he needed help.

He found Mr Witty's body crushed between the tractor and the mower.

"He was obviously deceased," Mr Stork's statement said.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Julian Franklin said the farming equipment was of a type that had caused accidents worldwide earlier this century.

A jury returned a finding of death by misadventure at the inquest at The Pavilions, Harrogate.

Mr Witty was 71 years old and lived in East Lutton near Malton.

His son James told the inquest his father was an experienced farmer, fit and healthy and used to the machinery he was using.

The father referred to manuals when using farming equipment, said the son.

Police called to the scene noticed a mown stretch of grass at the edge of the field, the inquest heard.

They found no suspicious circumstances.

Mr Franklin said the mower had an adjustable height to which it could be lifted when the tractor turned at the end of a line of mowing.

The equipment's manual had clear warnings that the height of the lift could only be adjusted when a rocker switch was at neutral and the engine was off.

"It is likely Mr Witty was resetting the height of the lift and it is possible he inadvertently forgot to put the rocker switch to neutral and to turn the engine off," he said. "This is the only scenario we can come up with that would fit the circumstances."

Since the accidents earlier this century, EU standards had changed and similar equipment now was constructed differently to remove the risk. The controls were no longer between the tractor and mower, he said.

Mr Witty was the first ploughman ever to win both the World Conventional and Reversible Championship titles.

He won the conventional title in 1988 in the USA, in1990 in the Netherlands and in 1992 in Spain, along with the reversible title in 1998 in Germany.

Mr Witty was also a director of the Society of Ploughmen for 25 years and a multiple British champion.