THE manager of the Swansea Valley mine where four miners drowned has been cleared of manslaughter.

Malcolm Fyfield and mine owner MNS Mining Ltd were found not guilty by a jury which took less than hour to reach its decision at Swansea Crown Court.

In September 2011 Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, died when a controlled explosion at the Gleision mine near Pontardawe, let in 650,000 gallons of water.

Prosecutors had claimed Mr Fyfield, 58, was negligent by allowing the men to dig towards an area where underground water was present.

But he always maintained he had carried out three safety inspections the day before the tragedy.

Mr Fyfield, who has suffered severe post traumatic stress disorder since surviving the incident, broke down in tears as the verdicts were announced.

Mr Fyfield declined to comment when he left Swansea Crown Court but a statement was later issued on his behalf.

It said: “Mr Fyfield recognises that the most important issue is the memory of his four colleagues who lost their lives in the tragic accident at Gleision Colliery on the 15 September 2011 and he would ask that due respect is paid to them going forward."

A statement from the families of the men who died was read out on the court steps.

“Today has been a difficult day for us all, as have the last two-and-a-half years since we lost our loved ones at the Gleision mine," the statement said.

“We miss Gary, Philip, Charles and David dearly.

“Not a day has passed without wishing they were still with us. The events of September 15, 2011, will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”