Serial fly-tippers receive jail sentences

Three men have been handed prison sentences following an 18-month fly-tipping spree and have been ordered to pay back more than £200,000 in proceeds made from the criminal activity.

The group, consisting of William Jones, Glenn Harper and Sean Collard from East London and Essex, dumped hundreds of tonnes of waste across five locations in Barking, Havering, Hertfordshire and Essex between 2012 and 2014.

Rotting waste at site in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire.
Rotting waste at site in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire.
The trio were captured on CCTV and by Environment Agency (EA) investigators between October 2012 and May 2014, dumping various household waste, wood and textiles.

The first occasion in October 2012 saw the men break into a yard in Choats Road in Barking and dump waste from a lorry with false number plates, which was caught on CCTV. In November 2012, the gang was caught on CCTV dumping 640 tonnes of aggregate at a printing works over three nights at a site in Oliver Road in Thurrock, Essex. The dump cost the landowners over £120,000 to clear.

At New Year 2013, Jones rented a yard from Network Rail at Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire, which EA officers later found was full of rotting waste wrapped in bales of black plastic. There is no suggestion Network Rail knew anything about the criminal activity on its land.

Then, in October 2013, EA investigators pursued a lorry driven by Collard along the A13 before he was seen dumping aggregate at a building site in Abbey Road in Barking. Collard was later joined by Jones and Harper in a van. As they were driving back along the A13 the three men were arrested by Essex Police at the EA’s request.

Their final offence was a series of visits to a landfill site in Rainham in Essex in May 2014, where all three men were identified by EA officers at the facility where they were using a lorry to move concrete blocks to block access to the site and Collard was seen dumping mixed waste on several occasions.

The trio were brought before Snaresbrook Crown Court where on 22 May Judge Patricia Lees said the trio’s criminal behaviour was motivated by money, with a financial cost to landowners, residents and the public purse, as well as causing environmental damage. She sentenced Jones, 39, of Jack Clow Road, Stratford, to 13 months in prison, ordering him to pay back £80,000 in a proceeds of crime order within three months or have his jail term extended by 18 months.

Harper, 33, of Arterial Road, Wickford, Essex, was given a custodial sentence of 12 months, and has to pay back £146,755 within three months or face an additional two years in prison.

The court may increase the proceeds of crime orders against Jones and Harper, as they benefited financially by more than £700,000. 

Collard, 53, of New Road, Rainham, was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, 200 hours of unpaid work and a curfew between 7.30pm and 5.30am, in force for three months. The EA was awarded costs against Collard of £10,000.

Commenting on the case, Emma Viner, Area Enforcement Manager for the EA, said: “The men involved showed a complete disregard to the landowners or taxpayers, less still, the harm dumping hundreds of tonnes of waste would have on the environment. This highly-organised operation broke the law on a commercial scale, but that same law caught up with them in the end.

“The prison sentences laid down in court by the judge show crime does not pay, also proven by more than £200,000 recovered from the men in a proceeds of crime order or court costs.”

Fly-tipping remains a blight on the UK environment and a scourge for local authorities, with fly-tipping cases increasing by 40 per cent since 2012. The Local Government Association has called for more funding from central government to be able to investigate and prosecute cases of fly-tipping, saying that the prohibitive costs of the legal process are preventing local authorities from making effective use of new powers. These powers include the ability to block access to illegal waste sites and force operators to clear waste at illegal sites, as well as to hand out Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of up to £400 to householders who fail to find a licensed carrier for their waste and whose waste ends up subsequently being fly-tipped.

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