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Drunk farmer imprisoned for killing young boy while driving tractor

Date:
13 December 2016

A self-employed farm worker has been imprisoned after running over and killing a young boy with his tractor, while 2.5 times over the legal drinking limit.

Harry Whitlam regularly attended Swithens Farm where his mother worked. Parts of the petting farm were open to the public, while other sections were closed off and separated from the public by barriers.

Leeds Crown Court heard that it was normal practice for Harry, 11, to be allowed in the working area of the farm but the workers would ensure that he was accompanied or he would remain in the public section.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that on 9 August 2013, a tractor within the closed off section of the farm was reversing up the yard to attach its vacuum trailer to the septic tank. At 9:15am in the morning Harry was walking towards a member of staff when he was fatally struck by the tractor.

Gary Green, the driver of the tractor, was breathalysed following the incident by the police and was found to be 2.5times over the alcohol limit for driving on a road.

Gary Green, Bradburn Road, Wakefield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974) and was sentenced to 16 months and 2 weeks in prison, with immediate effect.

Pam Whitlam, Harry’s mother said: “The day we lost Harry our close knit family was changed forever. We all miss him dearly and it has not got easier with time but harder. Harry was my youngest son a much loved brother, grandson, nephew and cousin. The only memories I currently have of Harry are from the day of the accident but his life was so much more.

“It is not okay for anyone whether on a public road or private land to be drunk and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. My hope today, now the court process is complete, is that Harry’s life becomes more than one day and as a family we can again remember the good times we shared.”

HSE Inspector Julian Franklin, said “This is an extremely tragic case. Harry was a young boy whose life was cut short by the reckless behaviour of Gary Green. Drink driving legislation does not apply on private land but it does not mean you can blatantly disregard the health and safety of those around you when driving heavy and dangerous machinery.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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