A Darlington man has been ordered to pay back £350,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act – one of the biggest seizures for the Environment Agency in the North East.
And Tony Leigh Shepherd could have to pay back just under £1.2 million – the agreed benefit sum of his criminal activities – if he comes into future assets.
Shepherd, 41, of Winston, pleaded guilty to two offences of operating an illegal waste site at West Musgrave Farm, St Helen Auckland, between August 2009 and March 2011.
He also pleaded guilty to a third charge of operating an illegal waste site at Barrier Works, Hackworth Industrial Estate, Shildon, between December 5, 2010, and July 8, 2011.
He had been running a waste transfer facility on the land – illegally depositing, sorting and storing mixed household and industrial waste.
On February 24, 2014, he appeared at Teesside Crown Court where he was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Environment Agency officers then began proceedings to recover the value of his available assets that it’s believed was obtained through crime.
On Monday, August 17, following a confiscation hearing at Teesside Crown Court under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Shepherd was ordered to pay back £350,000.
He could face a prison sentence if he fails to pay.
And if he comes into future assets he could have to pay back more of the £1.168million agreed benefit sum.
The Environment Agency’s Waste and Enforcement Manager for the North East, Andrew Turner, said:
This is a significant confiscation order and sends out the message to others who flout the law that waste crime does not pay.
They will not only be hit with court action but they’ll also be hit in the pocket. This is a debt for life for Shepherd as any assets in the future could go towards paying back the full amount.
Waste crime undermines legitimate businesses and can have significant detrimental impacts on communities and the environment.
This hearing demonstrates how seriously we take waste crime and we’ll continue to take action against those operating outside of the law and the regulations.
A Proceeds of Crime investigation is still ongoing into Tony’s father Raymond Shepherd, who managed Albert Hill Skip Hire in Dodsworth Street, Darlington.
He was jailed for 18 months in December 2013 after being found guilty following a trial of operating a regulated facility without a licence, unlawfully depositing controlled waste and failing to comply with a suspension notice.