Tractor driver admits failing to ensure safety of another after death of 11-year-old Harry Whitlam

Gary Green.
Gary Green.

A farm worker has pleaded guilty to breaching a health and safety charge over an incident which caused the death of an 11-year-old boy almost three years ago.

Gary Green, 51, was driving a tractor at Swithens Farm, Rothwell, in August 2013 when he hit and fatally injured Harry Whitlam.

Green, of Robin Hood, Wakefield, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of another when he appeared before Leeds Crown Court today.

The case was adjourned for the preparation of reports.

Green is likely to be sentenced at the end of a two-day hearing before a judge to establish the facts of the incident, on November 17 and 18, this year.

Green was granted unconditional bail until his next court appearance.

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

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

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 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.