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Belfast man who dumped 4,000 tonnes of rubbish on own land avoids jail

By Staff Reporter

Published 02/12/2016

Illegal dump: Hugh Corey
Illegal dump: Hugh Corey

A 70-year-old Belfast man who deposited the equivalent of 330 bin lorry loads of rubbish in an illegal dump on the side of Belfast's Black Mountain has been spared jail.

Pensioner Hugh Corey also escaped a fine for the blot on the landscape at his Tullyrush Road home in Hannahstown.

After the case ended yesterday a spokesman for the Department of the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said more than 4,000 tonnes of mixed waste had been found on site.

"This is a significant case where thousands of tonnes of waste have been deposited on land without the proper authorisation and in circumstances where pollution was likely to happen," he said.

"It represents the illegal burying of over 330 commercial bin lorry loads of mixed waste without any consideration for the environment in order to avoid the charges associated with proper disposal."

Her honour Judge McCaffrey said that in light of Corey being fined and ordered to pay costs of over £4,500 earlier this year for operating a dump site without a licence, it was not appropriate to impose further monetary penalties.

The Belfast Crown Court judge said she wanted to make it clear that such offending was serious given the potential damage to the environment, which may prove difficult if not impossible to repair.

However, Judge McCaffrey said given Corey's age and health she was prepared to suspend his eight-month sentence for two years.

Corey was convicted by direction of Judge McCaffrey last month after his defence barrister Declan Quinn asked for him to be rearraigned on three of the charges, and on a new count. They involved the keeping and unlawful depositing of controlled waste and keeping it in a manner likely to cause pollution.

Mr Quinn said the guilty pleas were on the agreed specific basis that the pollution involved the escape of gases from the dump site when it was disturbed.

He added while it could not be determined that the local watercourse was polluted, it was accepted there was a "potential" for this, as opposed to a "likelihood" of it happening.

Prosecution barrister Gareth Purvis told an earlier hearing that inspectors from the NI Environment Agency first visited the site in August 2011 and found a whole raft of materials, including domestic and commercial waste and a number of skips.

Over the next two years officials returned and found similar waste, plastics, wood, brick and concrete, and although the land was in the name of his wife, Corey accepted he had control and was responsible for the site.

Eventually, in February 2014, NIEA officers returned with police, a warrant and earth-moving machinery and carried out what was termed "an intrusive examination" of the dump site.

The various digs uncovered red brick, plastics, concrete, treated wood, fabrics, packaging, stones, carpets, electrics and textiles, and "lumps of other materials... all mixed-up".

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