Greenfeeds Ltd co-owner jailed and company fined £2m after being found guilty of corporate manslaughter of two employees
A company co-owner has been jailed for 13 years and the firm fined £2m after being convicted of the corporate manslaughter of two employees who drowned after falling into a road haulage tanker containing semi-liquid pig feed.
Nathan Walker, 19, and Gavin Rawson, 35, died in December 2016 following the incident at Greenfeeds Ltd, a food recycling company in Normanton, Bottesford.
Gillian Leivers, 60, of Fosse Road, East Stoke, was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison after being found guilty of two counts of gross negligence manslaughter.
Her husband, Ian, 59, the managing director, was sentenced to 20 months in prison after being found guilty of breaching health and safety law because the offence was committed with his consent, connivance or attributable to his neglect.
The firm’s transport manager Stewart Brown, 69, of Forest Road, Mansfield, was sentenced to one year imprisonment, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of others.
The firm, which is now in liquidation, was convicted of the charges last week following a six-week trial at Leicester Crown Court and sentencing was yesterday.
The company, owned and ran by the Leivers family, produced bio-fuel and pig feed from recycled products which were then delivered using road haulage tankers.
Gillian Leivers was also found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974.
She was disqualified for being a company director for 15 years.
Ian Leivers was also disqualified from being a company director for ten years.
Brown had also been charged with two counts of gross negligence manslaughter but was found not guilty following the trial.
On the afternoon of December 22, 2016, Mr Walker, a member of yard staff, had climbed into a tanker to clean it after it was found the tanker could not be fully emptied of the pig feed.
He got into difficulty and the alarm was raised, leading to another member of the yard staff, Mr Rawson, climbing into the tanker in an attempt to rescue Mr Walker.
Both men were released after a saw was used to cut holes in the side of the tanker. Emergency services were at the scene and resuscitation was attempted but both men died at the scene.
A post-mortem examination found Mr Walker and Mr Rawson had died as a result of drowning in the animal feed. The forensic pathologist found it was most likely the men had been overcome by either toxic product from the animal feed and/or a lack of oxygen which had caused them to lose consciousness and fall into the animal feed.
A subsequent investigation carried out by Leicestershire Police and the Health and Safety Executive found that at the time of Mr Walker and Mr Rawson’s deaths, their employer company Greenfeeds Ltd had no adequate health and safety procedures in place to govern the cleaning of their tankers.
A method of cleaning the tankers which involved an employee entering the tanker with a power washer while another acted as a spotter and held the hose pipe connected to the power wash had been allowed to develop at the company and had been used on many occasions.
The cleaning method had no proper risk assessment in place. There was no method statement for entering the tanker or for getting someone out of the tanker and no provision of breathing apparatus or personal protection equipment for the employee entering the tanker.
Enquiries carried out during the investigation also found that staff at the company had previously expressed concerns regarding the dangerousness of the cleaning method but these concerns had been ignored.
There was also no named health and safety officer at the company.
The investigation led to the charges being brought against the company Greenfeeds Ltd as well as against managing director Ian Leivers, Gillian Leviers who worked as the office and accounts manager and oversaw the day-to-day running of the site and Stewart Brown who was transport manager and in charge of the yard.
Following the conviction, Detective Constable Kirsty Iqbal said: “Nathan Walker and Gavin Rawson were two young men who had their whole lives ahead of them. Both men went to work on the day of December 22, 2016, at Greenfeeds Ltd where they should have been looked after and their safety should have been paramount.
“Instead, investigations showed that the system which was used to clean out the tankers at Greenfeeds Ltd was so fundamentally dangerous that fatal consequences were virtually certain. Mr Walker and Mr Rawson had their futures taken away from them simply because the firm did not have the correct safety procedures and equipment in place. Their deaths should never have been allowed to happen."
Following the verdicts, the families of Nathan Walker and Gavin Rawson paid their tributes.
“He was expecting his first child and had his whole life ahead of him,” said the family of Nathan Walker.
And Gavin Rawson's family said: “We just wish we could hold him and tell him he is our hero.”