A SKIP hire company fly-tipped rubbish it had collected from customers after ‘mountains of waste’ formed at its depot.

Now, the three company directors and a driver have been sentenced to a total of 113 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 720 hours of unpaid work and to pay a total of £4,000 compensation and £4,000 prosecutions costs.

So much rubbish was stored at Evolution Skip Hire Ltd’s base in Earlestown that it began ‘seeping out’ of the site.

As a result, company directors ordered that this rubbish was taken away from the overflowing unit and dumped at locations in Warrington, St Helens and Newton-le-Willows.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that bosses Lee Burrows, Samuel Davies and Thomas Stephenson were first granted a permit to keep waste on the Suez Street site back in 2015.

Over the next two years, the Environment Agency made a total of 21 compliance visits to the company’s base.

During these inspections, concerns were raised over ‘mountains of waste’ that had formed and rubbish ‘seeping out’ of the site.

Boundary walls and access gates were found to be ‘buckling under the weight of waste’, while the poor state of the plot led to members of the public dumping their own refuse nearby.

Warrington Guardian:

But after a notice to improve was issued, the site ‘continued to degrade’ and rubbish was seen bursting through the roof of an outhouse.

Firefighters were even called out on one occasion.

In an attempt to bring the site under control, Evolution Skip Hire’s directors instructed lorry driver Peter Tracey to take rubbish away and dump it in public places.

The 36-year-old cocaine addict agreed to do so as he ‘needed the money’, and was paid around £900 for fly-tipping the waste.

One evening in January 2017, he dumped a ‘large quantity of mixed waste’ – including materials from a house clearance, painting and decorating equipment and carpets – on communal land on Junction Lane in the Sankey Valley Industrial Estate.

A letter found among the rubbish left behind led investigators to trace the refuse back to Evolution Skip Hire.

Another deposit was made at Tan House Farm Cattery in Appleton Thorn, while Persimmon Homes had to spend £11,000 clearing up rubbish tipped on its land.

Warrington Guardian:

Burrows, Davies and Stephenson – all of St Helens – admitted breaches of an Environment Agency permit during an earlier court hearing.

Thirty-three-year-old Burrows, described as a ‘dog’s body who had no control over the site’, lost £75,000 of his and his dad’s life savings he had invested in the business and is now working as a landscape gardener for his father.

Stephenson, 33, was made bankrupt as a result of his involvement in the company and is now working as a taxi driver, while 41-year-old Davies is a self-employed construction site supervisor.

Tracey, also of St Helens, admitted fly-tipping – although court proceedings were not brought against the company itself as it is due to be wound up later this month.

On Monday, Her Honour Judge Brandon handed down her sentence accepting that they had not deliberately set out to breach the law.

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She said they were incompetent, regretted what had happened and none of them had any previous convictions for environmental offences.

The judge was clear that the offences were so serious that they passed the custody threshold and were only suspended in light of the defendants’ personal mitigation.

All are parents and now in employment.

Each of the directors reported having suffered mental health issues as a result of their involvement in the operation of the permitted site and were now either recently declared bankrupt or in the process of doing so.

Burrows, of Mill Lane, St Helens, was sentenced to 34 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

Stephenson, of Chandler Way, St Helens, sentenced to 30 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

Davies, of Abbots Hall Avenue, St Helens, was sentenced to 28 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

Tracey, of Bentley Street, St Helens, was sentenced to 21 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

All must undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 compensation to Persimmon Homes and £1,000 prosecution costs.

Simon Hurst, area environment manager for Merseyside, said: "The Environment Agency takes waste crime very seriously and are committed to prosecuting when an offence has been committed.

"We are determined to make life hard for criminals.

"We support legitimate business and we are proactively supporting them by disrupting and stopping the criminal element.

"We would like to remind all landowners and occupiers that, they may be required to clear waste which has been deposited illegally at their own expense and may be prosecuted if they fail to do so.

"If you have any suspicions that waste is being deposited on your land please contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 or the police as soon as possible."