‘Negligent’ boss of Recycle Cymru Ltd jailed for nine years

The boss of a recycling firm has been jailed for nine years for manslaughter by gross negligence after a worker with a “heart of gold” died in an horrific baling machine accident.

Recycling Cymru's Stephen Jones, 60, has been jailed (picture: Daily Post Wales)

Stephen Jones, 60, was responsible for the death of Norman Butler at Recycle Cymru Ltd (Company number 05217264) in Kinmel Bay in a machine which was ‘primed and ready to kill’, said a judge.

The company itself had admitted failing to discharge a health and safety regulation and was fined £120,000 during the sentencing hearing on 15 July at Mold Crown Court. It came after a jury found Jones, of Llannerch Road West, Rhos-on-Sea, guilty earlier this month after a trial.

Mr Butler, 60, of Prestatyn, had climbed up a conveyor belt, used for taking waste cardboard into a container at the top, where staff would go to dislodge a blockage. He was later found at the bottom of a connecting chute in a compaction chamber. His left foot had been severed at the ankle and he died from massive blood loss at the site on Tir Llwyd industrial estate on November 30, 2017.

Multiple breaches

The judge Mr Justice Griffiths condemned multiple safety breaches by Jones whose company had a baling machine delivering 65 tonnes of force to shape waste cardboard and paper into bales. Jones failed to train Mr Butler properly, or to ensure staff never worked alone and didn’t have a guard around the hopper into which he fell. Safety paperwork was “for show” and he prioritised maximising profits over time-consuming and costly safety measures, said the judge.

He said: “Norman Butler was a fit and healthy 60-year-old when he was killed by an accident at work for which you Stephen Jones, as his boss, and Recycling Cymru Ltd, were entirely responsible. He was generous, funny, compassionate and warm-hearted.

“His death has left a void in the lives of his daughter, granddaughter and three brothers which no sentence can possibly ever fill. This was an accident waiting to happen. It could have happened to anyone.”

He fell down into a “lethal machine primed and ready to kill”. He told Jones: “Your conduct was so truly and exceptionally bad in all the circumstances as to be criminal.”

Norman Butler, 60, died after getting trapped in a machine at Recycle Cymru (picture: Daily Post Wales)

Jones showed little reaction as he was sentenced. He will serve two thirds of the nine year sentence. The judge also disqualified Jones from being a company director for nine years.

Family man

Prosecutor Craig Hassall QC read out a victim statement by Norman Butler’s daughter Jessica Williams which said: “My Dad was a strong and devoted family man….for that to be taken away so suddenly truly broke me. I not only lost my Dad but my best friend who had a heart of gold.”

She told how he helped her to bring up her own daughter and the fact she will never see him smile or hug ever again causes her much pain. Ms Williams added: “He always made me laugh and was always there to wipe away the tears”.

She said: “My daughter asks ‘What happened to Grandad?’ but I can’t bring myself to answer that.”

Following her father’s death when she was 25, Ms Williams said she had to move out of the house they shared and became homeless. She lost her job and had to arrange his funeral – the first she had ever gone to. Now she is still having counselling and panics when trying to contact relatives if there is no immediate answer.

In another victim statement read by Mr Hassall, Mr Butler’s brother Joseph Butler says he’s still traumatised. He is badly affected by the “shock and horror and the awful way in which Norman died. I will never get over it.”

He’s lost weight, wakes up at night and is angry at the defendant Jones’ apparent lack of remorse. He ran the company in a “shambolic” way, claimed Mr Butler in his statement.

Liquidation

Caernarfon Crown Court also heard on 15 July that Recycling Cymru Ltd is folding.

Richard Thyne QC, defending Mr Jones, said the company is in voluntary liquidation. It is currently solvent but receivers have been instructed. He said it will cease to trade once Stephen Jones goes to prison.

[Report supplied by Daily Post Wales] Letsrecycle Editors’ Note: the court report from Daily Post Wales and Reach plc uses the company name ‘Recycling Cymru’ whereas the correct name is understood to be Recycle Cymru Ltd, Company number 05217264

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