Prosecution led by city council sees fly-tipper jailed for 13 months

A fly-tipper prosecuted by Birmingham City Council has been jailed for 13 months after pleading guilty to waste offences and breaches of consumer protection legislation.

James Michael McCann, aged 47, of Claerwen Grove in Northfield, was caught on CCTV dumping waste on Wolseley Drive in Ward End on 2, 3 and 6 September 2019.

At a sentencing hearing on 23 February 2021, Birmingham Crown Court was told two Ford Transit vans were involved in the incidents, both pulling a trailer with the same registration plate as one of the vans.

Less than three weeks later after the initial CCTV footage (24 September 2019), the two vans were found at an address in St Agatha’s Road, Washwood Heath, and seized by the council’s Waste Enforcement Unit. The vehicles were being used by McCann whilst carrying out building works at a property.

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Birmingham said: “It emerged McCann had cold called this household on 13 September 2019, under the pretence of representing a company called Premier Home Improvements Ltd. Following conversations with the homeowner, they had begun to undertake works at the property.

“However, investigations showed that the customer was being deceived and mislead through claims made in his business leaflets and website about the limited company when he was a sole trader.”

With support from West Midlands Police, McCann was arrested on 10 October 2019 and interviewed about the fly-tipping and business advertising. After arrest he failed to respond to a statutory demand notice requiring details about his business and how he disposed of rubbish.

McCann pleaded guilty to four offences on 7 December 2020 at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court. These were:

  1. Knowingly causing or permitting the deposit of controlled waste on land that did not have in place an Environmental Permit authorising such deposits. Contrary to Section 33(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  2. Failure to comply with a duty of care demand relating to disposal of commercial waste.  Contrary to Section 34(5) and 34(6) Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  3. Failure to comply with a statutory demand notice.  Contrary to Section 110 of the Environment Act 1995.
  4. Engaging in a commercial practice which was a misleading action in that the overall presentation deceived or was likely to deceive the average consumer in relation to the nature and attributes of the trader. Contrary to Regulations 5 and 9 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.

In mitigation, the court was told that McCann accepted being involved in carrying out work at a property in Birmingham and that the disposal of the waste was deliberate; that this it is a problem for local authorities, and that it resulted in profit.

McCann was sentenced to 13 months’ imprisonment and also ordered to pay £1,537 compensation to the council within 12 months. No order for costs was made, given the sentence imposed.

In addition, the two vehicles that were seized under the council enforcement powers will either be sold, with proceeds going to the council to support fly-tipping work or destroyed depending on an assessment of their road-worthiness.

Sentencing for the third offence to which McCann pleaded guilty - relating to a failure to provide information about waste disposal arrangements, under Section 110 of the Environment Act 1995 – is due to take place at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 5 March 2021.

Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks, said: “I hope this case sends out the clear message that we have given through past prosecutions – environmental crime is a crime against everyone in this city and will not be tolerated.

“Where we have credible evidence, we will – and do – prosecute. Fly-tipping is a drain on our resources, which could be better used in other ways to keep Birmingham clean and green. I would urge anyone with any information on any incident to contact us.

“In this particular case, the evidence provided by the householders who were misled was vital in helping the council bring the offender to court. I also want to offer my thanks to the hard work and dedication of the investigating officers and their counterparts at the police. Their commitment to the cause helped unearth further offences putting the consumers of this city at risk – a risk that has now been lessened by this successful prosecution.”

The Government's annual statistics for 2019/20, released this week, showed a 30% rise in the number of fines issued by the court for fly-tipping to 2,671.

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