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Yard manager jailed following industrial shredder death

15 February 2024

A YARD manager has been jailed for seven-and-half years and a company fined £400,000 after an employee was killed in an industrial shredder.

Brian Timmins, 54, was previously convicted of gross negligence manslaughter following the death of labourer David Willis at Timmins Waste Services in Wolverhampton.

Timmins was operating a digger on September 15, 2018, when he lifted Mr Willis, 29, onto the top of an industrial shredder following a blockage which had jammed the machine.

Mr Willis was then seen on CCTV working on and within the shredder, and footage from another camera showed the machine still operating while Mr Willis was sat within it.

Timmins reported the incident to police on Monday, September 17, after Mr Willis’ coat was found at work.

At today's sentencing hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Timmins was jailed for seven-and-a-half years while the company, Timmins Waste Services Ltd, was fined £400,000 after being convicted of corporate manslaughter on 6 December. 

The company must also pay costs of £29,815 to the CPS and £1,874 to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

The prosecution followed an investigation by West Midlands Police and the HSE.

Rosemary Ainslie, Head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said: “Timmins and the company owed David Willis a duty of care, but there were gross breaches of safety standards at every turn.

“Timmins was in day-to-day control of the yard and therefore must have been very well aware of the systemic and wide-ranging safety breaches by the company, as were its directors.

“Operating the shredder with Mr Willis in a vulnerable position was grossly negligent, and fell far below what could be expected of a competent yard manager in his position.

“Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Mr Willis, and I hope this sentence brings them some sense of justice.”

Gail Bell, HSE inspector said, “This was a tragic incident. Mr Willis’ death could have been prevented if Timmins Waste Services had implemented a safe system of work and safely isolated the waste shredder.

"Our thoughts remain with the friends and family of Mr Willis.”