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Gleision trial: Former owner returned to mine on day of tragedy

By SWEPRMosalski  |  Posted: April 16, 2014

  • Malcolm Fyfield pictured arriving at Swansea Crown Court with his wife


A FORMER owner of the Gleision mine has told the jury he returned to the colliery on the day four men died and went into the mine during the rescue effort.

Andrew Thomas said after news of the tragedy broke, he returned to the mine which he, and his father, bought in 1998.

He described walking into the mine on September 15, 2011 and finding the inside of the mine, near Cilybebyll, Pontardawe, was full of smoke.

He said he had made his way down the main drift - a 275 metre roadway leading from the hillside entrance into the mine but his way was blocked by water.

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He said pumps that rescuers had already installed and set off were creating mist and smoke so it was hard to see.

Mr Thomas said the pumps were taking the water from the bottom of the main drift out of the mine, via the surface.

He told prosecuting barrister Gregg Taylor QC that he could not say how far he had made it down the main drift before he reached water because it was so hard to see.

Mr Thomas was part-owner of the mine along with his father, Ray Thomas.

Ray Thomas has already given evidence in the trial of the mine manager and company which ran the mine on the day Philip Hill, aged 44, Charles Breslin, aged 62, David Powell, aged 50, and Garry Jenkins, aged 39, all died.

Malcolm Fyfield, aged 58, from Caerhenllys in Cwmllynfell and MNS Mining Ltd both deny four counts of manslaughter after the tragedy.

Four other witnesses also gave evidence yesterday. They were all former miners at the Gleision Colliery.

One, Kenneth Mattick, pointed an area of workings in the south east of the mine which were labelled “underground water” and said he had warned Fyfield to be wary of those workings.

The prosecution say that when Fyfield ordered a wall connecting the tunnel the men were working in and the old central workings was blown up, 650,000 gallons of water rushed in, drowning the men.

Their case is that Fyfield should have known and checked for that water.

The trial, which will is expected to last until June, continues.

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