The Court gave a clear warning to illegal waste operators in June by imposing custodial sentences on two men who controlled an illegal waste-dumping organisation.

Patrick Joseph Anderson was sentenced to 22 months in prison and James Gerard Kelleher was sentenced to 14 months at Inner London Crown Court. Both pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring to unlawfully deposit controlled waste on land. They will both serve half their sentence with the remainder on licence.

The road to conviction was a long process and involved a three-year investigation by the Environment Agency codenamed ‘Operation Huron’. The Agency discovered that between January 2003 and June 2004 Anderson and Kelleher operated an elaborate scheme illegally dumping over 14,600 tonnes of waste on at least 15 different sites in the London and Essex area.

Anderson and Kelleher went to extreme lengths to conceal their crimes. When setting up their illegal disposal sites they made them appear legitimate construction activities by wearing appropriate protective equipment such as reflective equipment and hard hats, even carrying surveying equipment. They created a business which appeared to be legitimate and set up a bank account using a false name – ‘Michael Ryan’ - through which the money they gained from their illegal activities was laundered. This name was used along with others on official documentation such as mobile phone accounts, insurance documents and also vehicle ownership. They even obtained health and safety signs and false company logos to display at the sites.

The sites used by Anderson and Kelleher were entered illegally and were a mixture of both local authority and privately owned land which has required extensive cleaning following the activities at a cost of around £340,000 from both public funds and from the private landowners. The defendants would, where required, cut security chains to enter the sites and then secure the site with their own locks to gain control.

The illegal dumping ranged from a few loads of waste to thousands of tonnes and the defendants even brought earth moving equipment onto the sites to level off the waste allowing them to continue dumping further waste.

The Agency also calculated, following financial investigations carried out, that the pair had made approximately £1.2 million although this was not purely profit.

This case was the first conspiracy charge the Agency has taken to court. In addition, this case also involved the first European Arrest Warrant used by the Agency to bring a defendant back from abroad to face charges – Anderson was brought back to the UK from Ireland.