Shropshire Star

Cocaine 'possible factor' in worker's fatal fall into industrial shredder, court told

The jury in the corporate manslaughter trial of a recycling site where a worker fell into an industrial shredder have heard that cocaine use may have been been a factor.

David Willis disappeared in 2018

David Willis, 29, who was working as a labourer at Timmins Waste Services in Wolverhampton failed to return to his Tipton home on September 15, 2018.

The trial previously heard that Mr Willis had been a cocaine addict 12 months prior to the alleged incident and that a colleague at the Mander Street, site in Merridale, described him as sometimes being "moody".

On Monday the jury heard details of an Australian case study featuring a possible link between suicides among employed males aged in their 30s, with a history of cocaine use.

Giving evidence for the defence toxicology expert John Slaughter told Wolverhampton Crown Court: "I can't say how any drug will act on any named individual. It depends on how much is taken and how it is taken, and the frequency of how is was taken in the past.

"Unless the person is abnormally large weight doesn't make a lot of difference. Any effect on personality depends on what their mental health prior was like prior to drug use."

The jurors, who have been shown CCTV footage of Mr Willis on top of the industrial shredder moments before the fall, were sent home after a short sitting on Monday morning and all the evidence in the trial has now been heard.

Closing speeches from prosecution and defence counsel are due to begin on Tuesday.

Brian Timmins denies manslaughter, gross negligence and perverting the course of justice

The court was previously told that Mr Willis climbed atop the shredder after a blockage, while his boss tried to fix the problem without consulting engineers and that Mr Timmins lifted him into position on a forklift truck.

Timmins Waste Services denies corporate manslaughter. Company manager Brian Timmins, of Fair Lawn, Albrighton, denies manslaughter, gross negligence and perverting the course of justice.

The case is being brought under the Health & Safety at work Act.

The trial continues.

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