Firm fined £2 million and Greenfeeds Ltd bosses jailed after two workers drowned in toxic pig feed

Gavin Rawson (L) Nathan Walker (R) Credit: Leicestershire Police

Three members of staff at a food waste plant in Leicestershire have been sentenced and the company fined £2 million after two of their workers drowned in a tanker of toxic pig feed.

Nathan Walker, 19, and Gavin Rawson, 35, died a few days before Christmas 2016 after getting into difficulties while cleaning out a tanker in NormantonLeicestershire.

The company, Greenfeeds Ltd, has been fined £2 million after being found guilty of two counts of corporate manslaughter, although it is in liquidation.

Gillian Leivers, the accounts manager, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison and her husband, Ian Leivers, the managing director, to 20 months.

A third man, Stewart Brown, the transport manager, was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for two years.

What happened to Nathan Walker and Gavin Rawson?

Nathan Walker and Gavin Rawson died in December 2016 at the site in Normanton.

It was three days before Christmas when they both got into difficulty while cleaning out a tanker containing semi-liquid pig feed.

The court heard Mr Rawson came to the aid of Mr Walker as he cleaned the tank.

Both men were pulled from the tanker after a saw was used to cut holes in its side.

Emergency services were called to the scene and they tried to resuscitate the men.

The two men died after getting into trouble while cleaning the pig feed tanker Credit: BPM

The six-week trial heard that there were multiple health and safety failings at the family-run site.

Both men died either due to a lack of oxygen or having drowned.

The trial heard that there were no health and safety procedures in place to govern the cleaning of the tank.

What were the company failings?

Greenfeeds Ltd was found guilty of corporate manslaughter.

The company was run by the Leivers family including Ian Leivers and his wife Gillian Leivers, and produced bio-fuel and pig feed from recycled products, which were then delivered using road haulage tankers.

The cleaning of the tanker on 22 December 2016 had been carried out at the direction of Gillian Leivers and transport manager Stewart Brown.

  • Greenfeeds Ltd had no adequate health and safety procedures in place to govern the cleaning of their tankers.

  • The cleaning method where someone entered the tanker with a power washer while another acted as a spotter and held the hose pipe had no proper risk assessment in place.

  • There was no method statement for entering the tanker or for getting someone out of the tanker.

  • There was no provision of breathing apparatus or personal protection equipment for the employee entering the tanker.

  • Staff at the company had previously expressed concerns regarding the dangerousness of the cleaning method but these concerns had been ignored.

  • There was also no named health and safety officer at the company.

Leicester Crown Court, where the defendants were sentenced Credit: PA

Ian Leivers, of Fosse Road, Newark, was found guilty, as a director of Greenfeeds Ltd, with a breach of section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Here, the courts believed the offence was committed with his consent or attributable to his neglect.

Gillian Leivers, who's 60-years-old, was found guilty of two counts of gross negligence manslaughter. She was also found guilty of a breach of section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 by virtue of section 37(1), with the courts also believing the offence was committed with her consent or attributable to her neglect.

Transport manager Stewart Brown, who is from Forest Road in Mansfield, was found guilty under section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974.

It’s a charge that says he failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of others, who might be affected by his acts or omissions at work.

The 69-year-old was also charged with two counts of gross negligence manslaughter. However, he was found not guilty of these two counts.

The Health and Safety Executive Principal Inspector, Samantha Wells said,

“This incident could have been easily prevented by those in control by assessing the risks and putting appropriate control measures in place.  It should serve as a reminder of the importance of an effective health and safety management system and the devastating consequences where these are not implemented and monitored. 

"HSE encourages all directors and senior managers to understand their duties to manage health and safety across their business and to take their responsibilities seriously.  Those who do not will be held to account for their failings as in this tragic case.

“Our condolences remain with the family and friends of those affected by these tragic events.”