Waste company and yard manager, 54, are found guilty of manslaughter after labourer, 29, was crushed to death ‘within seconds’ of falling into industrial shredder he was trying to unblock
- Remains of David Willis, 29, never found after he fell inside the machine
- Brian Timmins, 54, was operating the diesel-powered machine at the time
- Will be sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on a date to be fixed
A waste company and a yard manager have been found guilty of manslaughter after a labourer was crushed to death ‘in seconds’ inside an industrial shredder.
The remains of David Willis, 29, were never found after he fell inside a machine designed for shredding wood and commercial waste at Timmins Waste Services (TWS) in Mander Street, Wolverhampton, on September 15, 2018.
TWS and yard manager Brian Timmins, 54, who was operating the diesel-powered machine at the time, have been on trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court accused of ‘systemic failures’ which led to Mr Willis’s death.
A jury of eight men and four women found the waste company guilty of corporate manslaughter and Timmins, of Fair Lawn, Albrighton, guilty of manslaughter after deliberating for more than 10 hours.
The trial had been told that Timmins was operating the shredder when it stopped ‘abruptly’. After investigating the machine, he used a digger to lift Mr Willis on top and inside to see what the problem was, jurors were told.
The remains of David Willis (pictured) , 29, were never found after he fell inside a machine designed for shredding wood and commercial waste at Timmins Waste Services (TWS) in Mander Street, Wolverhampton, on September 15, 2018
Prosecutor Christine Agnew KC said CCTV evidence showed the machine was still operational at the time but should have been turned off.
When Mr Willis disappeared inside the machine, Timmins was seen on CCTV looking around the yard and inside the shredder’s ‘hopper’, which guides the waste towards the machine’s blades, before calling Mr Willis’s phone.
READ MORE: Worker, 29, was crushed ‘within seconds’ of falling into industrial shredder which ‘was clearly not switched off’ as he tried to unblock it , court hears
He was then seen looking out the yard gates and running around the site, before returning to the digger and continuing to operate the shredder.
The next day, Timmins, and other employees who were working that day, loaded and disposed of 80 tonnes of recycled waste by taking it to a landfill site in Cannock, Staffordshire, which ‘must’, Ms Agnew said, have included the remains of Mr Willis.
Mr Willis, who lived with his mother Caroline, was reported missing by her on the evening of September 15 when he did not return home to Tipton.
Ms Agnew told the jury that Mrs Willis called Timmins just before 11pm to ask if he had seen her son, but he said words to the effect of: ‘Not since this morning when he left and walked up the road.’
When police attended the yard days later on Monday September 17, CCTV footage showed Mr Willis falling into the shredder, prompting a search of the landfill site in Cannock. Part of a tabard that may have belonged to him was discovered.
The jury could not reach a verdict on a charge of perverting the course of justice levelled at Timmins.
As the verdicts were returned on Wednesday, there were sobs and gasps from the public gallery.
The incident took place at Timmins Waste Services (TWS) in Mander Street, Wolverhampton (pictured)
The prosecutor said Timmins’ conduct on the day of Mr Willis’s death ‘fell far below what would be expected of a reasonable and competent person in his position and was truly, exceptionally bad’.
It was also the prosecution’s case that Timmins ‘knew that Mr Willis had died in the shredder; he knew that some sort of criminal investigation or judicial proceedings were inevitable and he took active steps to interfere with evidence and to conceal the facts of the death’.
Timmins, who was granted unconditional bail, and TWS will be sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on a date to be fixed.
A decision is yet to be made on a retrial on the perverting the course of justice charge.
Mr Justice Jacobs lifted any reporting restrictions, saying: ‘The public should know about this.’
Before jurors were discharged, Mr Justice Jacobs thanked them for staying ‘immensely focused’ throughout the trial.
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