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First ever custodial sentence for illegal waste export

An Essex man has been jailed for 16 months for illegally exporting 46 tonnes of WEEE to African countries.

The Environment Agency said it was the first time a defendant had been given a custodial sentence for the activity and EA director of regulated industry Harvey Bradshaw called the case as a “landmark ruling”.

Joe Benson, 54, of Loughton, was described by the EA as a “repeat waste crime offender”. He was involved with the export of hazardous electrical waste, including broken cathode ray tube televisions and ozone depleting fridge freezers, to Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Congo.

The materials were found in in four containers intercepted at ports by EA investigators between September 2012 and April 2013.

The EA also said that Benson had been convicted of exporting similar hazardous electrical waste to Nigeria in 2011, but continued to send televisions and freezers illegally to West Africa while appealing, unsuccessfully, against previous convictions.

The agency believes he made around £32,000 from the activity.

Benson had entered a guilty plea at a hearing in March.

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