The boss of a waste company, who stockpiled more than 1,200 tonnes of waste wood, has been sentenced to a year in prison.
Tom McCabe, 32, of Sea Lane in Ferring, Worthing, was prosecuted by the Environment Agency and appeared at Lewes Crown Court on Monday, August 22.
He pleaded guilty to permitting wood to be deposited on land at Squires Farm Industrial Estate, Easons Green, Uckfield, in East Sussex, in respect of which no environmental permit was in force.
He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and ordered to pay £3,000 costs.
The court heard that in January 2012, McCabe set up a waste company, Matrix Bio Logistics, specialising in the storage and processing of waste wood with his partner, Kim Box, after leasing land at Squires Industrial Estate.
The Environment Agency granted McCabe a permit exemption for this activity but imposed strict conditions, including a limit of 500 tonnes of wood waste to be on the site in any seven day period.
A statement from the Environment Agency said that in February that year, just four weeks after the permit was granted, the amount of waste wood stored on site was over 1,200 tonnes, 2.5 times the agreed limit.
A notice was served by the Environment Agency requiring McCabe to clear the site but he ignored it and sold the company for £1, prompting the Environment Agency’s specialist crime officers to begin tracing his whereabouts, the statement read.
In July 2015, McCabe’s partner Kim Box was sentenced at Hove Crown Court to a 12 month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work.
According to the Environment Agency, his Honour Judge Hayward acknowledged Box was not the main operator of the business and that all efforts should be made to find McCabe as he was “a crook”.
McCabe was eventually apprehended by Heathrow police officers at the departure gate trying to board a plane to Dubai.
The responsibility to clear the site of the huge pile of wood left by McCabe now falls to the landowners. It will cost them £100,000 to £200,000 to remove all the waste, according to the Environment Agency.
Ian Walton of the Environment Agency said: “I am pleased with the verdict as this case sends a clear message to unscrupulous waste operators that crime does not pay and we will take all measures to ensure offenders face justice.
“As a result of his activities, Mr McCabe left a huge mountain of waste behind which has been a serious blight on the local community.”
As he passed the custodial sentence, His Honour Judge Hayward said: “This was an appalling tale and took place with no thought for the landowner.
“He leased the land, took money for the waste and then evaded detection.”
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