Wales

Gleision: Malcolm Fyfield and MNS Mining not guilty

  • 19 June 2014
  • From the section Wales

The manager and owners of a Swansea Valley mine where four miners died have been cleared of manslaughter.

Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, drowned in 2011 when 650,000 gallons of water flooded the Gleision drift mine following a controlled explosion.

Manager Malcolm Fyfield, 58, and mine owners MNS Mining had denied manslaughter through gross negligence.

The jury took just an hour to reach their decision.

Mr Fyfield, who has suffered severe post traumatic stress disorder since surviving the incident, broke down in tears as the not guilty verdicts were read out at Swansea Crown Court.

Key to the three-month case was whether Mr Fyfield inspected the mine as he said he did.

The former mine manager was working underground with the men when water tore into the pit after they blasted into old coal workings, near Pontardawe.

Mr Fyfield, 58, who had come out of retirement to run the mine and who had a "sky-high reputation", had been given orders to connect two parts of the pit to improve ventilation.

Image caption Malcolm Fyfield said there was only a small amount of water present the day before the incident
Image caption MNS Mining Ltd directors Gerald Ward and Maria Seage leaving court on Thursday
Image caption Rescuers had to pump water from the mine during the search before they could access it

The case came down to key points:

A statement from the families of the men who died was read out on the court steps following the verdicts.

It said: "Today has been a difficult day for us all, as have the last two-and-a-half years since we lost our loved ones at the Gleision mine.

"We miss Gary, Philip, Charles and David dearly. Not a day has passed without wishing they were still with us.

"The events of September 15, 2011 will stay with us for the rest of our lives."

They thanked those who helped with the rescue efforts and said they were grateful for the "overwhelming support" they had received from the community.

Image caption Garry Jenkins, 39, Philip Hill, 44, David Powell, 50, and Charles Breslin, 62, were killed in the mine

In a statement the directors of MNS Mining Ltd said: "We are enormously relieved that the jury have determined that neither Malcolm Fyfield or MNS Mining Ltd have committed any crime and were not in any way responsible for these tragic deaths.

"It has been a long and harrowing journey to this point and we would like to thank all those who have supported and helped us through these difficult times."

Detective Superintendent Dorian Lloyd, of South Wales Police, thanked the families for their "unwavering patience and support" of the investigation team.

"From the outset our aim was to establish a full understanding of what happened in the mine not only for the investigation but also for the families," he said.

"They have conducted themselves with tremendous courage and dignity throughout."

Neath MP Peter Hain said no-one would forget the "devastating tragedy" and paid tribute to the families, who he said had conducted themselves with dignity through a "painful and harrowing process".

"There are no winners in this outcome, sadly the families are left with major questions unanswered, they deserve answers," he said.

Image caption Rescue teams were called to the colliery on the morning of Thursday 15 September
Image caption Rescuers spent more than 30 hours searching for the four miners

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