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Skip hire boss guilty of eco court charges
A SKIP hire boss accused of serious environmental breaches was yesterday found guilty on all counts.
Raymond Anthony Shepherd and his firm, Albert Hill Skip Hire, faced ten charges of operating sites in Dodsworth Street and Whessoe Road, Darlington, between 2008 and 2010 without Environment Agency permits.
A five-week trial at Teesside Crown Court, during which Shepherd represented himself, heard that the Environment Agency made repeated visits to the site and issued enforcement notices, but operators failed to clean up.
The court heard that a fire at the Dodsworth Street site in March 2010 produced orange smoke, which was investigated.
Officials found the site in a “shocking” state.
Mixed waste was being stored on permeable surfaces and the drainage on the site was inadequate.
However, Shepherd argued he was “enthusiastic in avoiding pollution”. He told the court: “Even when there was the fire at Dodsworth Street in 2010, the water used to put it out went into the nearby river and there was never any sign of pollution.”
A jury took a day of deliberations to find Shepherd, a director of the firm, and the company itself, guilty of all ten charges.
Shepherd, of West Musgrave Farm, St Helen Auckland, County Durham, will be sentenced at a later date.
After the hearing, Graeme Hull, from the Environment Agency said: “The environmental permit was in place to minimise any risk of pollution to the environment. In breaching the permit, the company and Raymond Anthony Shepherd showed a blatant disregard for the environment and the law.
“We hope this court case shows that people who seek to maximise their profits at the expense of the environment and ignore advice and guidance can expect to be investigated and prosecuted.
“The Environment Agency wants to make sure serious waste crime doesn’t pay. We have both specialist and local crime teams set up to catch criminals, and we take these offences very seriously.”
Shepherd refused to comment after the case.
Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure and local environment, paid tribute to officers from the council, police, Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive involved in dealing with the case.
He said: “At times, it has taken a great deal of resources, and also bravery and courage to stick to doing what they know was right and officers have not flinched from that.
“In this period, Mr Shepherd has tried to convince agencies, and the people of Darlington, that he was operating a legitimate company within the law, but it has taken a great deal of public expense and time to prove otherwise.
“This company and this man are public menaces.”
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