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Jail for tractor driver who killed 11-year-old boy the morning after beer binge

Harry Whitlam

By Henry Valantine

A tractor driver has been sentenced to 16 months in prison for knocking over and killing a young boy the day after he had drunk the equivalent of 13 pints of beer.

Gary Green, 52, admitted failing to ensure the safety of others following the death of Harry Whitlam, 11, at Swithens Farm, Rothwell, in August 2013.

The youngster had been taken to hospital with serious injuries, but he could not recover and passed away on the same day.

Judge Guy Kearl QC, called Green’s conduct “a flagrant disregard for the law” during sentencing, with Leeds Crown Court hearing that he drank what would have been the equivalent of 13 pints of beer the night before.

Judge Kearl added: “Harry was there to be seen, and the defendant failed to do that, with tragic consequences.

“There was large heavy machinery which needed to be operated by someone who was fully in charge of their senses.

“In my judgment, had he not been affected by alcohol, his ability to carry out such observations around him would have been greater.”

Green was tried under health and safety law rather than road traffic law because the incident took place on private land, a branch of law that carries a shorter maximum jail term for this type of offence.

Julian Franklin is the inspector of the Health and Safety Executive, which brought the case, and he called the incident a “tragic accident,” but called the sentence a “fair result.”

Swithens Farm

He said: “It has taken a long time to get the case to court but we have a result today.

“He was driving heavy machinery under the effect of significant quantities of alcohol, and that is not safe whether you’re on the road or, in this case, on private land.

“It’s very tragic but I have to work with the law as it’s produced by Parliament, by the legal profession, and that’s all I can do.”

The victim’s mother, Pamela Whitlam, said after the hearing: “I’ve got a lifetime sentence after Harry’s death. So 16 months for him is nothing.”

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