Hefty bill for East Durham men convicted of waste offences

Feb 16, 2023 | Local News

Three County Durham men have been left with a combined bill of more than £3,500 after being convicted of waste offences.

The cases of Robert Wright, Stephen David Keers, and Kieran Fisher were dealt with at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court following prosecutions by Durham County Council.

Wright, 40, of Ashbrooke Estate, Shotton Colliery, was caught on CCTV dumping waste on Black Lane, Wheatley Hill, in October 2021.

The footage showed him parking up in a dark blue Ford transit van before unloading gas bottles, wood, cardboard, and garden and building waste over a four-minute period.

Appearing via video link, Wright pleaded guilty to a fly-tipping offence, as well as a second offence of failing to assist an investigation into a separate fly-tipping incident in Wingate.

In mitigation, Wright’s representative said he thought he had permission to leave waste at the site in Wheatley Hill.

His representative also told the court Wright wasn’t involved in the incident in Wingate.

Wright was fined £480 and ordered to pay £1,465 costs as well as a £48 victim surcharge.

He was also disqualified from driving for six months and handed a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order.

The order prohibits him from carrying, transporting, or transferring waste without producing a licence to Durham County Council first.

Keers, 36, of Salvin Street, Croxdale, was fined £400 after failing to assist a council investigation into waste left at the gates of its refuse centre in Annfield Plain one evening in May last year.

Officers investigated after the household waste was left at the site entrance when the site had been closed and locked up for the night.

They called Keers after tracing it back to him and he accepted he had left the waste there but said he would not accept a Fixed Penalty Notice.

He was prosecuted after failing to attend an interview with officers a few weeks later.

Keers failed to attend court but was found guilty in his absence and ordered to pay £347 costs and a £160 victim surcharge in addition to the fine.

Fisher, 22, of the Davy Lamp pub in Front Street, Kelloe, was fined £80 after an investigation into how waste from the pub ended up being ditched on a grassed area behind nearby School Avenue.

Council officers received a report of a large fly-tip at the site in April last year and traced a number of dumped items back to the pub, including beer glasses and a dartboard.

When interviewing Fisher, he said he could not explain how the waste had got there but said it may have initially been in a skip outside of the pub.

He pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which requires businesses to make sure their waste is disposed of responsibly.

He was ordered to pay £550 costs as well as a £34 victim surcharge in addition to the fine.

In mitigation, he said he didn’t know how the waste had got there but accepted it was ultimately his responsibility.

Ian Hoult, neighbourhood protection manager at Durham County Council, said: “Though these are very different cases, the one thing they have in common is that there’s no excuse for any of them.

“We’ve got Wright caught red-handed on camera dumping all manner of things in Wheatley Hill and then failing to comply with a notice that required him to help us with a separate fly-tipping investigation.

“In Keers’ case, taking that kind of case to court will always be a last resort but during our investigations he made it clear he wouldn’t pay a penalty notice and then failed to turn up for interview or get in touch with us to rearrange it. He then failed to turn up in court.

“For the Fisher case the overriding message is that your waste is your responsibility. If waste from your premises is found dumped somewhere else you need to be able to show us that you took all reasonable steps to make sure it was disposed of properly. If you can’t demonstrate you’ve taken such steps then you’re leaving yourself open to prosecution.

“Fly-tipping is an issue we know our residents feel very strongly about and we always encourage people to report any incidents to us, as well as any information or intelligence that might help us track down those responsible.”

The successful prosecutions come just days after the council confirmed fly-tipping in the county is at its lowest level ever, while the number of fines issued has increased.

For more information on how to report fly-tipping, and how to make sure you dispose of your waste legally and responsibly, visit www.durham.gov.uk/flytipping.

*** Image for illustrative purposes only. ***