European Arrest Warrant for ‘ruthless’ fly-tipper on the run

A man sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment for illegally dumping waste in 18 different locations across Devon is believed to have fled to the Republic of Ireland and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

European Arrest Warrant for ‘ruthless’ fly-tipper on the runThe 23-year-old, Martin McDonagh, was yesterday (21 March) described by the judge at Plymouth Crown Court as a ‘persistent offender who showed a ruthless determination to dump waste wherever it suited’.

McDonagh, who has also been ordered to pay a fine of £7,000, failed to appear in court, however, and is believed to have fled to his native Ireland. He has been made subject to a European Arrest Warrant.

The court heard how McDonagh was responsible for illegally depositing both commercial and household waste across Devon, including at several ‘beauty spots’. The investigation into his crimes was a joint effort led by the Environment Agency (EA) with support from Teignbridge District Council, Plymouth City Council, West Devon District Council, South Hams District Council and Devon and Cornwall Police.

Bags of mixed waste were found dumped at sites across the county, including car parks, bus stops and golf clubs, sometimes as many as 40 bags.

The EA seized McDonagh’s van, which he used to transport the waste, after it was spotted in Teignmouth by Teignbridge District Council, having been abandoned. Contractors hired to remove it found asbestos inside the van, which was subsequently destroyed by the EA.

From July 2015 to July 2016, McDonagh cold-called residents, who were identified using documents found in the illegally dumped waste, often pressuring them to pay him to remove their waste, receiving between £50 and £400 for jobs.

Several said they were suspicious and felt ‘uneasy’, but agreed to pay him to take their waste to ‘get rid of him’. He would then dump the waste in the surrounding countryside areas. One householder, in Exeter, told the court she told McDonagh she didn’t want him to fly-tip her waste. McDonagh reportedly laughed and replied: “Of course not.”

As well as his 20-month sentence, McDonagh was also ordered to pay a total of £7,000 costs for illegally depositing commercial and household waste at numerous sites in South and West Devon. The court also issued a Criminal Behaviour Order that prohibits McDonagh from being involved in any business enterprise involving the collection, carrying or transport of waste.

According to the EA, McDonagh would sometimes ask for more cash after he’d loaded waste onto his van. One woman paid him £75. He returned after she had done some more clearing and tidying of her property and asked for £125 to take the rest of the waste claiming he was ‘out of pocket’ for the first load that he had taken to the tip.

At a previous hearing, McDonagh had pled guilty to two offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, for illegally depositing controlled waste and, under the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989, of transporting controlled waste without being registered as a waste carrier.

According to the judge presiding over the case, McDonagh would have faced a two-year sentence, had he not pleaded guilty.

Duty of Care

Adrian Evans, Senior Environment Crime Officer for Devon and Cornwall said: “This case serves as a reminder for people to be vigilant when transferring waste for disposal. Any person who collects and disposes of commercial or household waste must be a registered waste carrier, authorised by the Environment Agency.

“Everyone has a duty of care to ensure their waste is disposed of safely and doesn’t harm the environment. You should ask to see an operator’s waste carrier licence and whether your waste is being taken to an authorised site. Do not let your waste be removed if you are in any doubt. These simple steps can stop rogue fly-tippers in their tracks.

“The illegal disposal of waste in the countryside and local beauty spots causes annoyance and upset to local people and visitors. The serial fly-tipper in this case was caught as a result of agencies working closely together, sharing intelligence and resources to protect our environment.”

Tough on fly tipping

Several have applauded the tough approach on fly-tipping that saw McDonagh handed a prison sentence. Councillor Rufus Gilbert from South Hams District Council said: “We are taking a very robust line on fly-tipping in the South Hams and have issued 13 fixed-penalty notices against offenders. We are delighted that these cases are now coming to court. I assure you, we will continue whenever possible to prosecute future offenders.”

Robert Sampson, Councillor for West Devon Borough Council, added: “It is crucial fly-tippers are traced and prosecuted for the damage they do to our countryside. This case shows what can be achieved by working closely with our partners.”

Local authorities in England spent £49.8 million clearing up illegally dumped waste in 2015/16, as the number of recorded cases of fly-tipping continued its recent rise, according to statistics released this month by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).