Man’s grisly death after falling into jaws of industrial shredder in factory

A man met a gruesome end after he fell into an industrial shredder at work with his family since stating the pain of his death remains as raw as it was five years ago.

David Willis, 29, fell into a shredder designed for wood and commercial waste at Timmins Waste Services (TWS) on September 15 2018, while trying to clear a blockage. The remains of Mr Willis have never been found.

However, the contents of the machine were taken to a landfill site in Cannock, Staffordshire from the site at Mander Street, Wolverhampton. TWS and yard manager Brian Timmins, who was operating the shredder at the time, were found guilty of corporate manslaughter and manslaughter respectively at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Wednesday (December 6).

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In a statement released through West Midlands Police, Mr Willis's 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."

The court heard how Timmins had been operating the shredder when it stopped "abruptly" and lifted Mr Willis on a digger to see what the problem was. Prosecutor Christine Agnew KC said that the machine was shown by CCTV evidence to still be operational at the time of the incident and should have been switched off.

Timmins was seen looking around the yard and into the machine's hopper on CCTV after Mr Willis disappeared inside the machine. He called Mr Willis' phone before running around the yard and looking out the yard gates, before returning to the digger and resuming the operation of the shredder.

The following day Timmins and other employees removed 80 tonnes of recycled waste at the disposal site which according to Ms Agnew "must" have contained the remains of Mr Willis.

West Midlands Police Detective Inspector 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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