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Landfill death horror: Family’s grief after body found

By Claire McNeilly

The devastated family of a young man killed at a landfill site were today trying to come to terms with the tragedy as the horrific details of his death began to emerge.

David Leyland, a 23-year-old supervisor at Biffa Waste in Mallusk, who had only been married for a few months, died under tonnes of waste after he apparently fell into part of the quarry.

The Newtownabbey man was reported missing on Thursday around 7.50pm, some five hours after he was last seen beside machinery at the Cottonmount site.

David’s brother Ken Leyland (28) — who heard the dreadful news last night — said he will never get over what has happened.

“I am destroyed,” he said.

“I am completely destroyed. It’s too much to take in.”

Ken’s girlfriend, Laura Molloy, said David’s heartbroken family is finding it almost impossible to accept his death. “They found the body last night,” she said. “It had been buried under the rubble.

“It was pretty bad. I think they were holding onto the hope he would still be alive when he was found so everyone has taken it very badly. They think he fell into a landfill part of the site and no-one noticed, so lorries were continually dropping rubbish on him.

“I think there was about 40 tonnes of the stuff. Police searching that part of the site spent the whole day just pulling back all that rubbish.”

Ms Molloy said that the family were questioning why he had not been reported missing sooner.

“Why did no-one notice he was missing?” she said.

She described David’s widow Carol (22) as “devastated” and said his other brothers, Peter (29) — who is flying back from New Zealand today — and Stuart (12), are also struggling to take in the tragedy.

“The four boys were very close,” she said.

Body of missing man is recovered

Colleagues of missing man David Leyland were today engulfed in grief after learning that thebody recovered at a quarry by police late last night is his.

Mr Leyland (23), who was employed by Biffa Waste in Mallusk as a site manager, was reported missing two days ago.

The Newtownabbey man was last seen around 2pm on Thursday beside machinery at the Co Antrim quarry.

Police used dogs and the PSNI helicopter in an extensive search for Mr Leyland, who only got married three months ago, but it had to be called off at 1.30am on Friday due to hazardous conditions.

The hunt resumed yesterday at 9am, with Mr Leyland’s family — who arrived at the landfill site after spending an agonising night — hoping and praying that he would be found.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, his brother Ken Leyland said the family believed the search should have begun a lot sooner as it would be out of character for David to have left the site.

“David’s worked there since he was 17 years old,” he said.

“He’s site supervisor. They work six days a week and he’s always been on site. He’s never late for work, he’s the most reliable person there.

“He was beside the vehicles that manoeuvre the waste into a pile. One look he was there, the next he wasn’t. His locker was full of his clothes, his trainers, his jacket, his bag, his keys.”

The PSNI confirmed they were first alerted that someone was missing on Thursday at 7.50pm.

The family also questioned why it took so long for the search to resume again on Friday.

The PSNI area commander for Newtownabbey, Chief Inspector Paula Hillman, said officers had to be briefed about the operation.

David Knott, managing director of Biffa’s Resource and Treatment division, said an internal investigation into the tragic incident was imminent.

“We are all shocked by this dreadful event and our thoughts and condolences are with our colleague's family at this very sad time,” he said.

“At present, we do not know the full circumstances that resulted in this tragic situation and are fully co-operating with the police in their investigation. We are, of course, also immediately undertaking our own investigation, but we cannot comment on the possible cause of this incident until the full facts are known."

Conditions on the site were more treacherous than normal because of flooding caused by recent heavy rainfall.

And there were huge piles of rubbish as well as lying water.

Yesterday divers were brought in to help search the quarry as part of specialist teams from the Tactical Support Groups involved in the operation.

Newtownabbey Alliance councillor Lynn Frazer today said she wanted to extend her condolences to Mr Leyland’s family. “I’m really, really deeply saddened by the outcome.It’s such a shock for his wife and the rest of his family and I offer them my deepest sympathy.”

Belfast Telegraph

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