Having failed to pay back £350,000 gained through illegal waste crime, Darlington man Tony Leigh Shepherd has been jailed for three years.
Shepherd had originally pleaded guilty to two offences of operating an illegal waste site at West Musgrave Farm, St Helen Auckland, between August 2009 and March 2011.
He also pleaded guilty to a third charge of operating an illegal waste site at Barrier Works, Hackworth Industrial Estate, Shildon, between December 5, 2010, and July 8, 2011.
According to the Environment Agency he had been running a waste transfer facility on the land – illegally depositing, sorting and storing mixed household and industrial waste.
In February 2014 he appeared at Teesside Crown Court where he was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Environment Agency officers then began proceedings to recover the value of his available assets that it’s believed was obtained through crime. Financial investigators were assisted by the North East Regional Asset Recovery team.
The recovered sum of money was to be paid to central government to support crime prevention measures.
Shepherd was ordered to pay back £350,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act – one of the largest orders the Environment Agency has gained in the North East.
The agreed available amount was based on assets Shepherd owned, such as plant, machinery and vehicles - including a Range Rover Sport.
It was also agreed that if he came into future assets he could have to pay back more of the £1.168 million agreed benefit sum. And if he didn’t pay, he was warned he could be jailed.
However, earlier this week he appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court where he was sentenced to three years for failing to pay back the agreed amount of cash.
The court heard he had paid back £10,000 but interest accrued meant he still owed the court £347,228.49. The court said there was a ‘willful refusal’ from Shepherd to pay the sum.
The agency added that when Shepherd is released from prison he will still have to repay the full amount.
“This is a significant result which sends a clear message to others who flout the law that waste crime just does not pay,” said the Environment Agency’s Enforcement team leader for the North East, Dave Edwardso.
“We took Shepherd to court for his crimes and then sought to hit him in the pocket by recovering the money it was believed he gained through his criminal activity – resulting in the biggest confiscation order for us in the North East,” he continued.
Edwardso also noted that the debt is for life and Shepherd must repay the money – and any assets in the future could also go back to repaying the full amount.
“Waste crime undermines legitimate businesses and can have significant detrimental impacts on communities and the environment. This hearing demonstrates how seriously we take waste crime and we’ll continue to take action against those operating outside of the law and the regulations,” concluded Edwardso.
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