Gleision disaster: Mine manager charged over four deaths

The four miners who died: Charles Breslin, Phillip Hill (top) and Garry Jenkins and David Powell (bottom, left to right)
Image caption The four men died when the mine flooded on 15 September 2011

Police have charged a man with manslaughter as they investigate the deaths of four miners in the Gleision colliery disaster.

David Powell, 50, Charles Breslin, 62, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, died in the Swansea Valley mine on 15 September 2011.

Mine manager Malcolm Fyfield has been charged with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter.

The 57-year-old will appear at Neath Magistrates Court on 1 February.

The company which owns the colliery, MNS Mining Ltd, has been summonsed for four counts of corporate manslaughter and will also appear at court.

Their families and community leaders were updated with news of the charges earlier on Friday.

Det Chf Inspector Dorian Lloyd, of the South Wales Police specialist crime investigations team, said the aim of the investigation was to establish a full understanding of the events that led to "such devastating loss of life".

Watched and waited

"Upon completion of the investigation and following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, the mine manager, Malcolm Fyfield has today been charged with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter," he said.

"In addition, a prosecution for four offences of corporate manslaughter against the owners of the mine, MNS Mining Ltd, is proceeding.

"I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all members of the local community for their continued support and understanding throughout this process.

"In particular I would personally like to thank the families involved for their unwavering patience and courage and request that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time."

The disaster unfolded on a hillside above the village of Godregraig and drew nationwide attention while rescuers tried to reach the four trapped men - all experienced miners.

Their families gathered at the nearby Rhos community centre where a team of liaison officers from South Wales Police kept them updated.

Mr Fyfield was seriously injured in the incident but escaped through an old mine shaft.

Two other miners, including Mr Powell's son, escaped and helped raise the alarm.

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