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Yard manager Brian Timmins inset left, was jailed after worker David Willis, right, fell into an industrial shredder and died under his supervision (Pictures: West Midlands Police/SWNS)

A waste company boss has been jailed for more than seven years after a worker he was supervising was killed in an industrial shredder.

David Willis, 29, fell into a shredder designed for wood and commercial waste at Timmins Waste Services (TWS) in Wolverhampton on September 18, 2015.

TWS and yard manager Brian Timmins, 54, who was operating the machine at the time, were found guilty of corporate manslaughter and manslaughter respectively after a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court last week.

The company was ordered to pay fines of £400,000 plus costs of more than £30,000.

Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on a charge of perverting the course of justice against Timmins and the prosecution decided not to seek a retrial.

Mr Willis’s remains were never found after it’s likely they were sent to landfill along with 80 tonnes of waste the day after the accident.

Sentencing on Friday, judge Mr Justice Jacobs said ‘no words of mine can convey the tragedy’ for the family of Mr Willis, who he called a ‘hardworking young man’ and a ‘devoted son and brother’.

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He said what happened wasn’t ‘bad luck’ but instead the result of a ‘complete disregard’ by Timmins and TWS to keep their staff safe.The trial had heard ‘systemic failures’ led to the ‘horrific’ death of Mr Willis.

CCTV from the day shows Mr Willis being hoisted up to the machine on a JCB digger’s grapple arm.

Timmins, who was in the cab of the digger, had told Mr Willis to clear a blockage in the shredder while it was still running.

Mr Willis is seen kneeling down on the edge of the machine, reaching in and thentoppling inside.

He would have been killed instantly by the blades, the court heard.

Mr Willis’s remains were never found (Picture: West Midlands Police/SWNS)

Footage shows Timmins climb up to the top of the machine and peer inside before climbing back down.

He is then seen phoning Mr Willis and looking around the yard before climbing back into the digger to carry on working.

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Mr Willis’s mum, who lived with her son, called Timmins just before 11pm the same day to ask if he’d seen him but the yard manager said words to the effect of: ‘Not since this morning when he left and walked up the road.’

She reported her son missing to police that night and the following day Simmons instructed his workers to take the waste to a landfill in Cannock, Staffordshire.

Timmins was found guilty of manslaughter (Picture: West Midlands Police/SWNS)

Prosecutor Christine Agnew KC said the waste ‘must’ have included the remains of Mr Willis.

Timmins only reported the incident to police two days later after Mr Willis’s coat was found at work by someone else.

Mr Justice Jacobs said the ‘extremely powerful’ shredder came with a ‘detailed and well written operator’s manual which explained in clear language how to operate it safely, and the obvious and serious risks of death and injury which needed to be guarded against’ but Timmins had failed to read it.

He said the yard manager had shown ‘blatant disregard for a very high risk of death’.

Mr Willis tries to clear the shredder whilst it’s still running (Picture: West Midlands Police/SWNS)

Timmins captured on CCTV not long after Mr Willis fell into the shredder (Picture: West Midlands Police/SWNS)

He told the court: ‘Even if Mr Timmins did not actually know that David Willis was still up there, his conduct in switching on the machine again, without checking whether Dave had come down, was – to use the legal test for gross negligence manslaughter – exceptionally bad.

‘He had not seen David Willis come down from the shredder. He did not lift him down, and he did not see Dave walk past him on the way out.

‘He did not hear Dave say anything to him, such as goodbye. He did not see him pick up his coat and leave the yard.

‘In his evidence, Mr Timmins accepted that he should have checked before switching on the machine again. It is absolutely obvious that he should have done so.

‘Had he done so, David Willis would still be alive.’

Mr Willis’ family said in a statement: ‘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.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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