Mr Tom McCabe, aged 32, of Sea Lane in Worthing, West Sussex appeared at Lewes Crown Court on Monday 22 August and pleaded guilty to the offence. He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and ordered to pay £3,000 costs.
The Court heard that in January 2012, Mr McCabe set up a waste company, Matrix Bio Logistics, specialising in the storage and processing of waste wood with his partner, Miss Kim Box, after leasing land at the Squires Industrial Estate, Easons Green, Uckfield in East Sussex. The Environment Agency granted Mr McCabe a permit exemption for this activity but imposed strict conditions, including a limit of 500 tonnes of wood waste to be on the site in any seven day period.
In February that year, just four weeks after the permit was granted, the amount of waste wood stored on site was over 1,200 tonnes, 2.5 times the agreed limit. A notice was served by the Environment Agency requiring Mr McCabe to clear the site but he ignored it, sold the company for £1 and went on the run.
As the Environment Agency’s specialist crime officers continued to trace Mr McCabe’s whereabouts, his partner Kim Box was sentenced at Hove Crown Court in July 2015 to a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work. His Honour Judge Hayward acknowledged Miss Box was not the main operator of the business and that all efforts should be made to find McCabe as he was “a crook”.
McCabe was eventually apprehended by Heathrow police officers at the departure gate trying to board a plane to Dubai. The responsibility to clear the site of the huge pile of wood left by McCabe now falls to the landowners and will cost them £100,000 to £200,000 to remove all the waste.
Ian Walton of the Environment Agency said: “I am pleased with the verdict as this case sends a clear message to unscrupulous waste operators that crime does not pay and we will take all measures to ensure offenders face justice. As a result of his activities, Mr McCabe left a huge mountain of waste behind which has been a serious blight on the local community.”
Whilst passing the custodial sentence, His Honour Judge Hayward said: “This was an appalling tale and took place with no thought for the landowner. He leased the land, took money for the waste and then evaded detection.”