Greenfeeds Ltd, which is now in liquidation, had been found guilty of two counts of corporate manslaughter on June 7, following a six-week trial at Leicester Crown Court.
The company, which was based in Normanton, Bottesford, Leicestershire, and owned by the Leivers family including Ian Leivers and his wife Gillian Leivers, produced biofuel and pig feed from recycled products, which were then delivered using road haulage tankers.
Nathan Walker, 19, and Gavin Rawson, 35, died in December 2016 following the incident at the Leicestershire site.
On 22 December 2016, Walker, who was a member of yard staff at the company, had climbed into a tanker to clean it after it was found the tanker could not be fully emptied of the pig feed. But he got into difficulty. The alarm was raised leading to Rawson, who was also a member of yard staff, climbing into the tanker in an attempt to rescue his colleague.
Both men were pulled from the tanker 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 the two workers died at the scene.
At a sentencing hearing at Leicester Crown Court on Thursday, June 16, the company’s accounts manager, Gillian Leivers, who also oversaw the day-to-day running of the plant, was sentenced to a total of 13 years imprisonment after being found guilty of two counts of gross negligence manslaughter and for being in breach of the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act.
Greenfeeds Ltd managing director, Ian Leivers, was given a 20 month jail sentence after being found guilty of being in breach of that legislation as well.
The firm’s transport manager, Stewart Brown, who was in charge of the yard, was sentenced to one year imprisonment, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of a health and safety offence. Brown had also been charged with two counts of gross negligence manslaughter but was acquitted of these two charges following the trial.
A post-mortem examination concluded Walker and 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 UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that at the time of Walker and Rawson’s deaths, their employer, Greenfeeds Ltd, had no adequate health and safety procedures in place to govern the cleaning of their tankers.
Following the conviction last week, the officer in the case, Detective Constable, Kirsty Iqbal said that investigations showed that the system that was used to clean out the tankers at Greenfeeds Ltd was “so fundamentally dangerous” that fatal consequences were virtually certain.
“Nathan Walker and Gavin 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.”