Tractor driver charged two years after boy knocked down and killed on Leeds farm

The scene of the incident at Swithens Farm
The scene of the incident at Swithens Farm
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The driver of a tractor which knocked down and killed a schoolboy on a farm in Leeds has been charged – more than two years after the incident.

Gary Green was behind the wheel of the vehicle, and an attached slurry trailer, when 11-year-old Harry Whitlam was fatally injured at Swithens Farm in Rothwell in August 2013.

Harry spent a lot of time at the farm, where his mother, Pamela, worked

Harry spent a lot of time at the farm, where his mother, Pamela, worked

At an inquest last July, a jury heard the Crown Prosecution Service was unable to pursue a prosecution against Mr Green, 50, because the incident happened on private land.

However, following a lengthy investigation, the Health and Safety Executive has confirmed it is taking court action against the labourer, who had worked at the farm for 20 years.

He is accused, under the Health and Safety Act, of being a self-employed person who failed to take steps to prevent putting othersat risk by operating a tractor while under the influence of alcohol. The HSE has stressed it is a criminal charge, not a civil matter.

The maximum sentence for such an offence is two years in prison and a £20,000 fine.

The matter will be heard at Leeds Magistrates’ Court next Tuesday.

Harry’s inquest heard that the youngster, of Bradford Road, East Ardsley, loved to spend time at the farm, where his mother, Pamela, worked in the cafe.

He would help out with basic tasks including collecting eggs, but on the day of the incident had strayed into the working section of the farm, which is off-limits to the public.

The youngster was airlifted to hospital after the accident but died the same day.

Police carried out an investigation and Mr Green was initially arrested on suspicion of drink driving and causing death by dangerous driving.

But the inquest heard the case went no further because the vast majority of traffic offences only applied to public roads.

Detective Sergeant Benn Kemp told the inquest: “The Crown Prosecution Service did site visits and identified that the location wasn’t classed as a public road and as such the police were unable to prosecute.”

After the inquest, Harry’s family called for a change in the law.