Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Tractor driver jailed for one year after running over and killing boy, 11, on farm while drunk

Harry Whitlam died after being hit by a tractor on a farm. Credit: Whitlam family

The driver of a tractor who drank the estimated equivalent of 13 pints of beer the night before he ran over and killed an 11-year-old boy on a farm has been jailed for a year.

Gary Green, 51, was more than two times the legal drink drive limit when the incident happened near Leeds in August 2013.

The court heard Green was reversing a tractor with a muck-spreader attached when one of the wheels crushed Harry, causing him terrible injuries.

Andrew Long, prosecuting, said a breath test at the scene had a reading of 90 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Later, at the police station, he gave a reading of 74 to officers who described him as smelling of alcohol and having glazed eyes.

An expert later estimated his reading at the time of the incident as 86.

Green was originally arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and drink driving, but an inquest into Harry's death last year heard the case went no further because the incident happened on private land.

Most traffic offences only apply to public roads.

Green claimed he had drunk four pints in a pub the night before the incident, followed by two cans at home, but Judge Guy Kearl QC heard that an expert had concluded that he must have consumed the equivalent of 13 pints of beer before going to bed at 2am.

Swithens Farm near Leeds. Credit: ITV News Calendar

On Tuesday Green was jailed for 16 months and two weeks for health and safety violations which contributed to the death of the schoolboy at Swithens Farm.

During the case it emerged that Green had two previous convictions for drink-driving.

Harry's mother Pamela, who worked in the farm's cafe and had taken him to the farm on the day he died, is calling for a change in the law.

Speaking outside Leeds Crown Court, Ms Whitlam said the sentencing "highlighted the need for a review" of current laws and "sentencing guidelines of HSE prosecutions of this matter".

Ms Whitlam added that the court case and sentencing had left her "shocked" and "speechless", but she remained "determined to change the law, definitely where drink driving is concerned" as a "legacy for Harry".

"I've got a lifetime sentence myself so 16 months for him is nothing," Ms Whitlam said.

She continued she was not motivated by a "personal vendetta" against Green, "but people have to learn and they have to learn from somewhere", calling for tougher laws and penalties on all forms on drink driving: both on private and public land.

Ms Whitlam advocated a zero tolerance policy, saying that people should not be able to have any drinks before getting behind the wheel.

In an earlier statement Ms Whitlam 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."

Julian Franklin, Inspector with the Health and Safety Executive. Credit: ITV News Calendar

Julian Franklin, the Health and Safety Executive Inspector who investigated the incident called the case "tragic" and an "unusual accident" following the sentencing.

Mr Franklin would not be drawn on his view of the sentencing but said it was a "fair result" since "the court is limited in their sentencing powers".