A waste operator has been sent to prison for three years, one of the longest jail terms on record in the sector for failing to pay back money he gained through waste crime.
Tony Leigh Shepherd, 41, had been ordered to pay £350,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act when he appeared at Teesside Crown Court in August 2015.
As MRW reported at the time, he had admitted three offences of operating illegal waste sites at St Helen Auckland and Shildon (pictured).
Shepherd was told he would have to pay just under £1.2m, the agreed benefit sum of the criminal activities, if he came into future assets and was warned he would be jailed if he did not contribute the smaller amount.
On 25 May, Teesside Magistrates’ Court was told Shepherd had paid back £10,000 but, with interest accrued, he still owed the court £347,228.49 and there was a ”wilful refusal” to pay up. When he is released from prison he still has to repay the full amount.
Environment Agency enforcement team leader for the north-east, Dave Edwardson, said: “This is a significant result which sends a clear message to others who flout the law that waste crime just does not pay.
“We took Shepherd to court for his crimes and then sought to hit him in the pocket by recovering the money it was believed he gained through his criminal activity – resulting in the biggest confiscation order for us in the north-east.
“And because he has failed to pay that back, he has now been sent to prison. But it’s still a debt for life for Shepherd and he must repay the money – and any future assets could also go to repaying the full amount.”
He had been running a waste transfer facility on the land, illegally depositing, sorting and storing mixed household and industrial waste.