A house was badly damaged today when a runaway digger smashed into it from a building site.

The front of the house in Cheddington Grove, Allerton, Bradford, was demolished when the yellow earth-mover slipped out of control and rolled down the hill.

It smashed through next door's garden fence and finally finished up a third inside the house.

The owner of the house, Ronnie Ward, who is understood to be retired, was out at the time.

Next door neighbour Paul Grafton, 28, an unemployed HGV driver, said: "I was standing in the front room looking out the window and I saw this earth-mover and it started rolling backwards fast.

"I stood there - what can you do? When it stopped I went running next door to see if Ronnie was in, but he wasn't. We got the dog out and it was all right. There was nobody else in."

He said the crash had been a terrible shock: "It shuddered the whole house. I thought it was all going to go."

Police say the earth-mover contained 20 tons of earth from the building site opposite Mr Ward's house. It is believed that Bradford & Northern Housing Association is turning the site into a 42-home estate below the Crow's Nest pub.

PC Hugh Robinson said: "The man who owns the house is out.

"He will get an awful shock when he gets home."

He said he thought there wasn't a driver inside the truck when it rolled down the hill.

Works manager Dean Miller said engineers had been checking the vehicles on the site after at least £800 vandalism had been carried out over the weekend.

He said: "The truck rolled away before anyone could get inside.

"Our engineer was standing on the side of it because he was assisting the mechanic, but as the engine wasn't running you can't steer and you can't use the brakes."

Site manager Gary Williams said a full investigation was taking place into how the accident happened and whether vandalism had been a factor.

The Health and Safety Executive has also launched an inquiry.

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