Waste dumping masterminds jailed

Two men who masterminded a highly organised illegal waste dumping operation are behind bars after a three-year operation to bring them to justice.

Patrick Anderson, of Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, Ireland, and James Kelleher, of Dagenham, London, both pleaded guilty to dumping nearly 15,000 tonnes of rubbish in Essex and London.

A judge at the Inner London Crown Court sentenced Anderson, 51, to 22 months in prison while 39-year-old Kelleher received a 14-month jail term. Both men will serve just half of their sentences before being released on licence for the remainder.

The landmark case marks the first time the Environment Agency has prosecuted offenders on a conspiracy charge to secure a stronger conviction.

It was also the first time the agency used a European Arrest Warrant, which was necessary to bring Anderson back to the UK from Ireland to face charges.

The conviction follows a three-year investigation codenamed Operation Huron which found that Anderson and Kelleher had dumped more than 14,600 tonnes of waste – equivalent to around 750 lorry loads – on at least 15 different sites.

Paul Leinster, chief executive of 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.”

Anderson and Kelleher had set up a legitimate-appearing business to front the operation, which allowed them to launder the money earned from dumping the waste, and deposit it in a bank account under a false name.

They had even attempted to disguise the illegal disposal sites as construction sites, wearing reflective jackets and hard hats, and in some cases displaying fake company logos and health and safety signs.

Many of the sites, which included local authority and privately-owned land, had also been broken into.

About £340,000 of taxpayers’ money and the landowners’ money had to be spent on cleaning up the sites.

Two days after the conviction, Defra launched a consultation on measures to crack down on criminals like Anderson and Kelleher who profit from illegally dumping waste.

The consultation documents can be found here.

Kate Martin

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