|April 10, 2009|
Jail for dumping 175,000 tyres
|A former North Wales Police inspector has been jailed for a year for illegally dumping 175,000 used tyres. |
Geraint Evans, 51, from Caernarfon, Gwynedd, his partner Marilyn Hanks, 37, and Norman Cassidy, 58, were all sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court.
Cassidy, of Clacton on Sea, Essex, was jailed for eight months. Hanks, a former civilian police employee, was ordered to do 240 hours community work.
They admitted illegally disposing of tyres at sites in England and Wales.
Judge Stephen Hopkins QC, referring to Geraint Evans and Norman Cassidy, said: "You are thoroughly unscrupulous men with no regard whatsoever for the financial consequences of those you exploit.
"You were deliberately dealing in waste without a licence for purely financial reason and it's had a substantial impact on the community."
The six-month investigation, one of Environment Agency Wales' largest, followed an anonymous tip-off.
The tyres were left at sites in Hirwaun, South Wales, Manchester and Colchester in Essex.
Cardiff Crown Court heard each defendant played various roles in setting up the tyre recycling plants before moving on and leaving others to clear up mountains of waste rubber.
Nine articulated lorry trailers were found abandoned in Cheshire and the north west of England in March and April 2006.
Each trailer contained approximately 12,000 used tyres.
The largest dump was at the Hirwaun Industrial estate near Aberdare, where 100,000 tyres are still being stored, until they are recycled or the owner pays to deal with them legally.
The court heard they did not have a waste management licence for any of the premises, did not pay rent and made about £115,000 over 18 months.
The court heard that Evans, a former police inspector at Caernarfon who retired in 2005, had been involved in the tyre industry since 1991, while still a serving police officer, with the force's permission.
After leaving the force he decided to make a career out of tyre recycling, but was made bankrupt.
Evans pleaded guilty to five counts of unauthorised depositing and keeping of controlled waste. Hanks admitted two counts of assisting or conniving in offences by a corporate body.
Cassidy pleased guilty to four counts of unauthorised depositing and keeping of controlled waste.
The judge said the defendants will serve half of the jail term that he has imposed, then be released on licence.
An anonymous tip-off alerting the Environment Agency that tyres collected from all over the UK were being dumped illegally, sparked the investigation.
Operation Ceinwen involved the agency worked closely with police forces in North Wales and Essex, the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs (VAT) as well as the Manchester and South Wales Fire services.
The court heard Evans, who has a baby daughter with Hanks, is training to be a lawyer.
Nicholas Mason, defending, appealed for him not to be jailed as he is currently in the middle of sitting law exams.
Mr Mason added: "He has already paid a significant price in relation to these matters and the associated benefit deception. He's lost his good character and his reputation."
Outside court, Environment Agency director for Wales Chris Mills said it was the first time this sort of case had resulted in a prison sentence.
"This was a really large scale criminal investigation, (the) dumping of something like 200,000 tyres.
"It resulted in significant financial loss both to legitimate waste operators and to the warehouse owners and it posed a significant fire threat to the community and indeed a threat to the environment.
"We're very pleased with the judgement which is the passing of two prison sentences. That sends out a really powerful message to people who think that they can cause waste crime."
The estimated income generated from the 175,000 dumped tyres would have been around £115,000.
The clear-up costs for the warehouse and site owners is thought to be well over £100,000.