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Prison sentence for serial waste criminal

A Swansea Valley man has started a five month prison sentence after being convicted of running an illegal waste operation, in a prosecution brought by Environment Agency Wales. He has also been given a six month driving ban, to serve following his sentence, and must forfeit the vehicle he used in the illegal activity.

On 23rd September, at Neath Magistrates' Court, Mark Roberts of Graig, Gellinud, Pontardawe pleaded guilty to four waste charges. (see Notes for details). The charges involved the unlawful keeping, deposit and disposal of controlled waste.

The Court heard that Roberts had been tipping waste illegally for several years, and this was his fourth prosecution by the Environment Agency for similar offences. At his previous court appearance in 2006, he had been given a suspended prison sentence, and the magistrates had no hesitation in activating this as well as imposing new sentences for the latest offences.

In November 2007, Roberts had been paid by a householder in Gellinudd to take away building waste. He was caught tipping this illegally in a driveway in nearby Alltwen. Environment Agency officers had been watching him, and recorded his activities on video.

They later went to his home with police officers and found his garden to be full of household and demolition waste. Some of the waste had been tipped over a back wall into a steep ravine, partly blocking a public footpath. Neighbours had complained of the thick, black smoke from frequent fires, and officers found the remains of burnt rubbish at his property.

Roberts was not at home, but a tipper lorry that he had been using for his illegal waste removal business was seized by the police, as a vehicle used in the commission of criminal offences. In court, the magistrates' directed that this vehicle be forfeited as part of his penalty, and it was handed over to the Environment Agency to cover their costs in bringing the case.

After the case, Lyn Richards, Environmental Crime Team Leader, Environment Agency Wales said:

“Those who commit waste crimes such as this will face the consequences. “The Agency is committed to tackle illegal operators who seek to gain a financial benefit by these activities, but we all have a responsibility to make sure that waste does not end up in the hands of criminals. Always make sure that anyone who offers to dispose of waste is a registered waste carrier, and ask them where they are taking it. Ask to see proof, and if they cannot provide this, check with the Environment Agency first.

Information is available on our website www.environment-ageny.wales.gov.uk or you can phone our hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

For more information contact Martin Watkins on 029 2046 6029 or email

martin.watkins@environment-agency.gov.uk

The four charges are all under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

One charge under Section 33(1)(a) & 6 – deposit of controlled waste – 4 months imprisonment

Two charges under Section 33(1)(b) & 6 – keeping controlled waste; disposing of controlled waste – 28 days imprisonment on each charge – sentences to run concurrently

34(1)(a) & 6 – Duty of Care – no separate penalty

This was the fourth prosecution brought against Roberts for offences of this nature, the previous occasions being 10th June 2004, 11th January 2005 and 17th July 2006. It was on the latter occasion that the suspended sentence which was part activated yesterday was imposed.

At the hearing in July 2006, in addition to the suspended sentence Roberts had been ordered to perform 240 hours community punishment – this he had completed. The new offences were committed towards the tail end of the suspended sentence. The Justices decided to only invoke one month of the suspended sentence.

Anyone who sees pollution, illegal tipping of waste, poaching, fish in distress or danger to the natural environment can contact the Agency's emergency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, calls are free and will be treated in the strictest confidence.

We are an Assembly Government Sponsored Body protecting and improving the environment in Wales for present and future generations. We are responsible for managing flood risk, dealing with pollution incidents, reducing industry's impacts on the environment, cleaning up rivers, coastal waters and contaminated land, and improving wildlife habitats.

More information about the Agency is available on the world wide web – www.environment-agency.wales.gov.uk

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