JULY 2008

UK operators found guilty of dumping

Two men who had operated a highly organized criminal illegal waste dumping operation were handed prison sentences. Patrick Joseph Anderson and James Gerard Kelleher pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring to unlawfully deposit controlled waste on land. Anderson was sentenced to 22 months in prison and Kelleher was sentenced to 14 months in prison at Inner London Crown Court. Both will serve half of their sentence in jail with the remainder on licenced release.

Paul Leinster, chief executive at the Environment Agency, said, “Today’s case is the culmination of one of the most intensive investigations carried out by the Environment Agency into the illegal disposal of construction and demolition waste. It sends out a strong and clear message to those who think they can profit from illegal waste dumping that the Environment Agency is watching and will take every step possible to protect the environment and bring offenders to justice.”

This case highlights many firsts for the Environment Agency including:

  • The first conspiracy charge it has taken through to court – allowed the Environment Agency to secure a stronger conviction and highlights that the defendants went to great lengths to conceal their crimes.
  • The first use of a European Arrest Warrant to bring back a defendant from abroad to face charges – it was used to bring Anderson back to face justice in the UK after having left for Ireland.

As a result of a three-year investigation codenamed ‘Operation Huron’, the Environment Agency found that between January 2003 and June 2004, Anderson and Kelleher masterminded an elaborate operation in London and Essex of illegally dumping over 14,600 tons of waste - equivalent to around 750 truck loads - on at least 15 different sites.

The defendants created legitimate-appearing businesses, setting up a bank account using an assumed name, ‘Michael Ryan’, through which they laundered the money gained from their illegal waste activities. They used this name and others on official documentation such as vehicle ownership and insurance documents, and also registered several mobile phone accounts in these names to divert attention away from themselves.

Many of the sites, which included both local authority and privately owned land, had been entered unlawfully. In some cases security chains had been cut to gain entry and the defendants then re-secured the sites with their own locks and chains to keep control of the sites. Around £340,000 has been spent on cleaning up these sites – some of which was from the public funds as well as the private landowners.

The illegally dumped waste ranged from a few loads to thousands of tons. Earthmoving equipment was brought onto sites to level off the waste to increase capacity.