THE devastated mum of Featherstone Rovers’ star Gareth Swift spoke of her heartache after watching her son’s team-mate jailed for causing his death in a horrific car crash.
Tracey Milner, 43, was at Leeds Crown Court last Friday to see reserve team player Charles Tosh, 20, get locked up for four years for causing the death of her “inspirational” son by driving dangerously at high speeds while twice over the legal drink drive limit.
In a statement read out in court the mum-of-two described hearing the news of Gareth’s death as “feeling that she had been killed too” and that “losing him had destroyed her heart and soul”.
Speaking after the emotional hearing, Mrs Milner, of Normanton, said: “I hope that other boys aged 18 and 19 see this and understand it’s too much heartache to put a mum through. I cry for him every day.”
The TK Maxx warehouse worker, who wore a signed “Swifty” Rovers’ shirt to court, said her son knew Tosh through the club and Wakefield College, but the pair were not close friends.
She said: “I’d never met him. A lot of people will say I should hate him and I hate him for his actions – but I don’t hate him because I don’t know him.
“It was difficult being in court because it brought it all back up. I told myself I wasn’t going to cry and tried to be strong, but it was hard hearing all the details again.
“I had it in my mind that Tosh would get three years in prison and I’d have been disappointed if he’d got less.”
Mrs Milner said her son, a former pupil at Featherstone’s St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School and Rovers’ first team hooker, was a “very bubbly, outgoing, loving person” who loved playing rugby.
Mrs Milner said: “Rugby was his life, since the age of seven when he played for Normanton Knights. He lived and breathed rugby. When he was little he never wanted to take his rugby boots off.
“He was sidelined last year when he broke his leg, but Rovers knew they had a star on their hands. He was going to achieve so much.
“He was only 19 years old, but he packed so much into his life.
“Everyone had respect for him. He was so intelligent and was going to go far. He had a place at Sheffield University to study sports science and performance and would have started last September.
“Gareth was very inspirational – Rovers, Wakefield College and St Wilfrid’s have all created awards in his memory. It just shows how popular he was.
“He was the life and soul of our family and was close to his friends. He’s sorely missed by everyone who knew him.”
The mum, of Wheatley Avenue, has launched a fundraising campaign in Gareth’s memory to raise £3,000 to send pupils at St Wilfrid’s on a rugby trip in Australia next year.
She has also donated £100 raised through events, including an event to mark Gareth’s 20th birthday last year, to Rovers’ Buccaneers club.
Mrs Milner said: “I’m going to be taking part in a sponsored parachute jump and we’ll be organising an event to mark Gareth’s 21st.
“It would mean so much if we could raise enough money to pay for at least one of the pupils to go on the school trip.
“Gareth loved children and sport – his older brother Grant, 23, is due to become a dad this year and Gareth would have been made up about being an uncle.
“He will never be forgotten.”