Company boss found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter


Brian Timmins

Timmins Waste Services has been found guilty of corporate manslaughter and its boss Brian Timmins guilty of gross negligence manslaughter after a worker was killed in an industrial shredder, West Midlands Police announced.

David Willis, 29, fell into a shredder designed for wood and commercial waste at Timmins Waste Services (TWS) on 15 September 2018.

Following a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Timmins was found guilty of manslaughter and TWS was found guilty of corporate manslaughter. Timmins and TWS have previously admitted health and safety charges. Sentencing is due to take place at a later date.

Speaking after the verdict, Willis’ family said: “David’s death is as painful for us now as it was five years ago. David has missed out on so many treasured family moments, including the birth of his niece and the growing up of his nephew, who still treats David as his superhero in the sky.”

Yard manager Brian Timmins had been operating the machine when it stopped abruptly and used a JCB grapple arm to lift Willis onto the machine to clear the blockage. But the machine, which should have been switched off while work was being carried out, was still ejecting waste. Willis fell into the machine and was killed.

David’s death is as painful for us now as it was five years ago.

Timmins carried on operating the shredder and the next day returned to work and helped workers load up waste which would have included Willis’ remains before it was driven to a landfill site in Cannock.

Willis’ mother reported him missing on the night after he failed to return home from work. However, West Midlands Police say it was only when Willis’ coat was found near the shredder two days later that CCTV from the previous Saturday was reviewed and it emerged he had fallen into the shredder.

Det Insp Jim Colclough, who led the investigation, said: “We found major, systemic failings across TWS which meant workers were put at risk. Risk assessments were not done, and safe methods of working were simply not put in place.

“Timmins’ failure to lock off the shredder, and his decision to put Mr Willis in a position of danger, directly caused this tragedy. We spent many weeks searching the site at Cannock but only found part of a tabard which may have belonged to David. The fact that we could not recover David has added to the anguish caused to his family, and denied them the chance to say goodbye to him with dignity.”

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