Man imprisoned for 16 months for waste offences

wood wasteA Leicestershire man has been sentenced to 16 months imprisonment for running an illegal wood waste business from his home between 17 February and 13 November 2012.

Sixty-eight year old Leslie Collins of Whitwick, Leicestershire, was sentenced to a total of 34 months imprisonment at Leicester Crown Court on Monday (23 September) for charges related to operating an illegal waste facility, breaching his ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) and criminal damage.

Collins was given 16 months imprisonment for running a waste operation ‘for the deposit, storage and treatment of controlled waste’ without the relevant permit, and a further 18 months to run consecutively for breaching his ASBO and criminal damage. 

The charges were brought against the defendant by the Environment Agency (EA) and Leicestershire Police, who worked together to investigate illegal wood waste activities being carried out at Collins’s home in Whitwick.

EA officers investigated allegations of illegal waste activity being undertaken at the defendant’s home, after witnesses reported seeing Collins unloading waste wood materials from his vehicle, taking them into his property, and ‘chopping, sawing, and breaking them up’ to make ‘kindling and other items’.

The court heard that the activities carried out were done ‘in a manner so as to cause maximum annoyance and harassment’ and were reportedly designed to ‘undermine the living conditions of his neighbours’. Further, it was found that Collins had been convicted at Loughborough Magistrates Court on 17 October 2012 for similar offences. Despite being fined, the EA said that Collins resumed his ‘unlawful waste wood business’ the following day.

Other offences related to Collins causing damage to a neighbour’s drain and pouring a ‘foul liquid’ containing urine, human excrement and other material over his neighbour’s fence on two occasions, which resulted in an ASBO. The court heard that these offences were captured on CCTV that the neighbour had installed. 

Defendant had an “unhappy history of anti-social behaviour”

In passing sentence, His Honour Judge Pert QC, stated that the defendant had an “unhappy history of anti-social behaviour” and that the defendant knew that his behaviour was anti-social, and had made the lives of his neighbours “a misery”.

Speaking after the hearing, Timothy Green, Prosecutor for the EA and the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This was a deliberate and premeditated campaign of anti-social behaviour by Collins of the worst kind designed to damage and destroy the environment of his neighbours. 

“It was his complete failure to respond to previous warnings and convictions that led to the prison sentence. 

“These convictions and sentence show the Environment Agency had the determination to take robust action against persons who wilfully damage the environment. Collins' neighbours behaved properly throughout and were not provoked to take the law into their own hands despite three years of harassment by Collins."

An Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation added: “Mr Collins carried out these activities on a commercial scale risking damage to the environment, undercutting legitimate businesses and causing a nuisance to his neighbours.  We work in partnership with the police and other enforcement agencies and value the contribution of vigilant members of the public to help crack down on waste crime”.

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