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Switalskis represent family in farm death inquest

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August 3, 2015 | By Marketing Team |

August 3, 2015 | By Marketing Team |

Switalskis Solicitors are currently advising the family of Harry Whitlam, an 11-year-old boy who was struck by a reversing slurry tank being towed by a tractor at Swithens Farm in Rothwell, Leeds.

Harry sustained serious injuries and died later the same day, despite undergoing emergency surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

A two day inquest into the accident was held at Leeds Coroner’s Court on Thursday 30th and Friday 31st July 2015. This was a jury inquest, led by Deputy Coroner, Kevin McLoughlin. The jury returned a narrative verdict on the cause of Harry’s death.

Inquest Narrative Verdict

“For reasons unclear and whilst unsupervised, Harry entered the working farm area and walked into the path of a slow reversing tractor and slurry tanker and was struck by the rear nearside tyre of the tanker which subsequently resulted in Harry’s death.

“The driver of the tractor provided a positive breath test at the scene.”

Clare Vercammen of Switalskis Solicitors and Anna Datta of Parklane Plowden Chambers, represented the family at the inquest and continue to advise them on all legal matters arising from the accident.

There has been significant media attention about the case, prompting the release of the following statement by the family following the inquest verdict.

Statement by Harry Whitlam’s Family

“As we approach the 2 year anniversary of Harry’s death, we are only now beginning to understand the full circumstances surrounding the tragedy. It has been extremely distressing for the family to listen to the evidence that has been presented to the Coroner and the Jury over the past 2 days.

In particular, the fact that the driver of the tractor was over twice the legal limit when tested at the police station some 2 hours after the collision. Plus in the police investigators opinion, Harry was there to be seen had the appropriate observations been made, both before and during the manoeuvre.

It is a legal anomaly that because the accident took place on private property, rather than a public road or public place, there can be no criminal prosecution arising from Harry’s death.

The family believe that there should be a change in the law so that it is illegal to be in control of a vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, wherever that vehicle may be.

However, we hope that the evidence heard at the inquest will be considered as part of the ongoing HSE investigation into the case.

Harry adored spending time at Swithens Farm. He was never happier than when he was around the animals he loved. Harry will live on forever in our hearts and we will always cherish the memories of the precious, if all too short time that we spent together.”

For further coverage of the story online, please see the links below. All media enquiries should be directed to Natalie Rodgers, Managing Director, Scala  t. 0114 3792013 or natalierodgers@scala.uk.com

BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-33732516

Yorkshire Post: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/local-stories/update-law-must-be-changed-say-family-of-leeds-schoolboy-harry-whitlam-1-7385678

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3181620/Tractor-driver-hit-killed-boy-11-twice-legal-limit-police-t-prosecute-private-land.html

Wakefield Express: http://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news/local-news/update-law-must-be-changed-say-family-of-leeds-schoolboy-harry-whitlam-1-7385678

ITV News: http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/story/2015-07-31/jury-delivers-narrative-verdict-in-farm-death-inquest/

Yorkshire Evening Post: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/update-law-must-be-changed-say-family-of-leeds-schoolboy-harry-whitlam-1-7385678

BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-33717879

Mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/drunk-tractor-driver-escaped-prosecution-6171673

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