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Gleision trial: Witness had "sleepless nights" after worries about accuracy of evidence

By SWEPRMosalski  |  Posted: May 07, 2014

By Ruth Mosalski / ruth.mosalski@swwmedia.co.uk / @ruthmosalski

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The Gleision trial has continued today at Swansea Crown Court

A WITNESS in the Gleision manslaughter trial returned to the witness box saying he had “sleepless nights” since giving his evidence more than a month ago.

Mine surveyor Lee Reynolds said he was worried the evidence he had given at the beginning of April could not be relied upon.

The prosecution say when the coal face between old workings and the working stall was blown up, a large reservoir of water rushed in and drowned four men.

Mr Reynolds said while standing in the witness box for the two days to give evidence he had seen a prosecution model showing workings in the mine.

He said the 2D model, which is in place to the right of the witness box, showed an area of workings which he had not seen before.

Those workings were south of a reservoir of water that had formed in old workings.

He said because he had not known these workings existed, they had not been factored in to his evidence, and that could change the accuracy of his evidence.

He then emailed the court on May 5 and gave a new statement this week to clarify his evidence.

He told the judge he had returned as a “matter of caution”.

Elwen Evans QC put to him: “Seeing that the plan which you had worked off was inaccurate had caused some very real worries on your part as to the accuracy of your evidence?”

“Yes,” he said.

In his original evidence Mr Reynolds told the jury about the position of a water line in the mine.

He said he had copied the route of that line from maps drawn up by previous surveyors.

But he said after seeing the model in court, he was concerned the map he had worked from was not accurate and his evidence could therefore also not be right.

He also said that coal pillars which are a “critical barrier to holding the water back” were not correct on the map he had seen in the court.

Mr Reynolds said he did not understand the significance of differences between the two plans until he left the witness box.

“I feel I may have inadvertently misled the court, based on the information I had at the time,” he said.

“In retrospect, I believe my assumptions were wrong,” Mr Reynolds said.

Prashant Popat QC, representing the company, put to Mr Reynolds: “What’s clear to you now, after being shown the model and being told of other workings that might not be represented on the plan, that these assumptions which formed the basis of your evidence, and therefore any assessment of the water level, the direction of travel, the build-up of an underground reservoir, based on your plan is similarly unreliable?”

“Yes,” he replied.

Mine manager, Malcolm Fyfield, aged 58, from Caerhenllys, and the company which ran the Gleision Colliery deny manslaughter of four men.

The trial continues.

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