A person found guilty of a waste offence, and sentenced to a 16 month prison sentence in 2007, has recently been ordered to sell land and properties to pay £176,519.10 to the Environment Agency under the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA).

In November, Bradford Crown Court confirmed the Confiscation Order and gave William John Peter Reidy six months to pay the money. He will receive a further 27 month sentence should he fail to pay on time.

Confiscation orders made under the PoCA can be used in any case where an offender has benefited financially from his criminality, and can include financial advantage gained over legitimate competitors, such as avoiding costs, fees and taxes.

This case was brought by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), after a referral from the Environment Agency. Initially, the Environment Agency used investigators from other Government agencies to carry out PoCA investigations. However, the EA appointed its own financial investigators (including forensic accountants) last year and now carries out the majority of investigations itself. It is currently investigating cases worth up to £25 million in total.

Reidy was sentenced in March 2007 after Bradford Crown Court heard that the 59-year-old’s Space Making Development (SMD) company was paid to take building waste away from companies across Yorkshire. The business boosted profits by dumping the waste illegally.

EA officers estimated that, in total, around 200 lorry loads of demolition waste had been dumped illegally while customers were given false documentation which stated inaccurately that their waste had been disposed of legitimately. It is estimated that Reidy benefited from his crimes to the tune of some £1.7 million.

One has to hope that the courts will, even if the Environment Agency do not, make the distinction between deliberate flouting of the law for financial gain and the legitimate operator who commits an offence because, for example, he honestly but mistakenly believed that he was entitled to an exemption from the need to hold an environmental permit. DMH Stallard regularly advise clients who face regulatory problems but who would not wish to be tarred with the same brush as the likes of Mr. Reidy.