Family urge change in law after death of child on ‘private’ work site
The driver of tractor who ran over and fatally injured 11-year-old Harry Whitlam has been sentenced to 16 months and 2 weeks in prison under health and safety legislation which carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.
The driver is likely to serve half that time in jail. If the death had occurred on a public road lawyers believe he would likely have been jailed for six years. Harry’s mother Pamela Whitlam said after the case:
“There has to be a change to this ridiculous, out-dated law and we are calling for that in Harry’s name.”
Gary Green, aged 52, who has two convictions for drink-driving could not be prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving under the Road Traffic Act 1988 because the death did not occur on a “road” which is defined under that Act as:
“any highway and any other road to which the public has access.”
Driver over ‘road’ drink 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.
HSE investigators 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 2.5 times over the alcohol limit for driving on a road.
Motoring law does not apply on private land
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.
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.”