South West Wales

Gleision trial: Jury goes out to consider mine deaths

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

The jury in the manslaughter trial for four miners who died when a Swansea Valley pit flooded has retired to consider its verdict.

Gleision drift mine manager Malcolm Fyfield and pit owners MNS Mining deny being grossly negligent.

Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, drowned at the drift mine in 2011.

The judge told the jury they must decide whether vital inspections by the mine manager took place.

Summing up before the jury went out, Mr Justice Wyn Williams KT said Mr Fyfield had escaped via a route the prosecution claims he had not inspected.

The judge said: "That's how he knew he could get out. But the prosecution say he hadn't carried out those inspections. So was it just luck that he got out?"

Survivor's evidence

The trial has heard the four men died when 650,000 gallons of water poured into the mine after they blasted into old coal workings, near Pontardawe.

Mr Fyfield, 58, who had come out of retirement to run the mine, had been given orders to connect two parts of the pit to improve ventilation.

The prosecution claims he should have known his workers would be breaking through an area called a "cautionary zone" where underground water was present.

The judge reminded the jury of evidence they had heard since the trial began at the end of March, including the description by survivor David Wyatt.

The miner told the court that he heard "a hell of a noise, like a jet engine whooshing" and that he had to run for his life.

The trial continues.

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