A man caused the death of an 11-year-old boy by failing to secure the scaffolding boards he was transporting on the rear of his van.
Russell Le Beau was driving on the B2095 Top Road at Hooe in East Sussex when the collision took place.
One of the boards was left suspended in mid-air at an angle across the carriageway in the opposite direction.
It gave Lee Dennis, the driver of a Volkswagen Passat in the opposite direction, no time to react to prevent a collision.
He was travelling with his 11-year-old son Harry in the front passenger seat and his 13-year-old daughter in the rear.
The scaffolding board struck the windscreen of the vehicle and caused serious injuries to Harry who had to be flown to Kings College Hospital in London.
Tragically, Harry died just days later from his injuries.
Le Beau, 34, a scaffolder of Alexandra Road, Eastbourne, was arrested and later charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
At Lewes Crown Court on November 3, he was sentenced to four years in prison, and was disqualified from driving for seven years.
The court was told how the collision took place at about 3pm on December 15, 2022, when Le Beau was driving the Ford Transit flatbed van owned by his business.
Investigators found that the wooden boards were only clamped down by a metal pole at one end, at the very rear of the van, with no ratchet straps, net or tarpaulin securing them.
Indeed, investigators inspecting the vehicle noted there were no straps, net or tarpaulin being carried anywhere in the vehicle.
This meant there was nothing to prevent one of the scaffolding boards from swinging out into the carriageway.
The court was also told that the protruding scaffolding board would have been visible in Le Beau’s wing mirror as he was driving.
But Le Beau had not followed the safe loading of scaffolding guidance.
There was nothing to prevent later movement of the scaffolding boards being carried. A report from the Health and
Safety Executive concluded that load security on the vehicle was “grossly inadequate”.
Delivering the sentence, Her Honour Judge Christine Laing KC told Le Beau: “You were driving whilst that vehicle was dangerous.
“I have no doubt that you were prepared to take a risk whatever the rush was that day.
“But you set off with catastrophic consequences. You were at the wheel and bear the responsibility for not checking.
“I accept that you didn’t intend to cause harm, but you took a most gross risk by driving with an insecure load.”
Speaking after the case, Harry’s mother Maria said: “Harry was our beautiful son with the biggest of smiles and the biggest of hearts.
“His kind, caring and fun nature made such an impact on so many. He would take others under his wing, helping his friends to grow in confidence and to believe in themselves.
“If Harry could make someone laugh it would make his day. His giggle was infectious and memories of we share memories of his antics daily. His smile lives on in us- his family, and his friends.”
The family said Harry was a “true sportsman”, playing football for Hastings Athletic Football Club, and said he always gave 100 per cent in everything he tried, adding “his ambition to win was second to none, but equally he was always humble in defeat.”
They said Hastings Athletic was not only his football team, but his football family, adding: “Harry was well known and loved throughout the football community for his strength, ability to score from almost anywhere on the pitch and of course for those crazy goal celebrations.
“Harry could not have crammed anymore love, happiness and adventure into his 11 years. He never wasted any time, was always busy, always planning what he would be doing next.
“We cannot thank Harry enough for leaving us with an abundance of memories to warm our hearts and to make us smile when we are feeling lost and alone.
“We have the biggest hugs waiting for you when we meet again.”
Detective Sergeant Rob Baldwin from Sussex Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit said: “Had Le Beau secured the boards down to the vehicle with ratchet straps, the load shift would not have occurred in the way it did, and this tragic loss of a young life would not have happened.
“The driver of any vehicle is responsible for the safety of that vehicle on the road and compliance with road traffic legislation relating to the operation of the vehicle and the safety of the load.”