POLICE have closed a criminal investigation into an explosion at a water recycling centre that killed three men and a teenaged boy.

The four died in December 2020 following a blast at the facility in Avonmouth, near Bristol.

Avon and Somerset Police has been leading an inquiry into what caused the explosion with the help of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Enquiries have focused on establishing whether any individuals or organisations were responsible for the explosion as well as whether any health and safety offences had been committed.

The families of Luke Wheaton, 16, Ray White, 57, Brian Vickery, 63, and Mike James, 64, have been kept regularly updated on any significant developments, police say.

Detectives from MCIT and investigators from the HSE recently met with the Crown Prosecution Service to review the evidence which had been gathered.

The decision was subsequently made that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a criminal conviction for manslaughter, officers said today (Wednesday, July 10).

The HSE will continue to carry out enquiries to determine whether criminal offences were committed under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Almond said: “Throughout our inquiry the families of Luke, Ray, Brian and Mike have been firmly in our thoughts.

“The families have demonstrated great dignity and patience while we carried out our enquiries and I’d like to publicly thank them for their support and understanding over the past three and a half years.”

He added: “Inquiries of this kind are extremely complex and require the support of other agencies to gather evidence and then a variety of experts to help us interpret what that evidence tells us.

“In this case, the evidence we’ve gathered doesn’t reach the extremely high threshold to prosecute any criminal offence of manslaughter.

“We have met all the families to explain this development and to inform them of what will happen next, with HSE taking ownership of the investigation.”

HSE principal inspector Simon Chilcott said: “We have been a part of this complex inquiry from the outset. Now as the lead agency, we will continue to carry out a robust criminal investigation to establish if there have been any breaches of health and safety law.

“We are in regular contact with the families, with whom our thoughts remain.”