Man who lied to Ipswich residents about the disposal of asbestos sentenced
- Credit: Environmental Agency
A man who targeted Ipswich residents, falsely telling them he was authorised to take away harmful asbestos, has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Lee Charles, from Lincolnshire, has been given the sentence at Lincoln Crown Court after he claimed he was registered to remove asbestos to gain lucrative jobs.
Charles targeted 40 towns and cities across the country which included Ipswich, Cambridge, Norwich, Greater Mancheter and Nottingham.
Having duped his customers, Charles stored the asbestos in hired storage containers at Welbourn, in Lincolnshire, 200 metres from a school and close to a Girl Guide centre.
Charles told the owners of the storage space he wanted to keep tools there.
When he failed to pay the rent on the containers, the owners forced the locks and were confronted with the dangerous contents.
Paul Salter, an environmental waste crime officer for the Environment Agency, said: “Lee Charles’ crimes were not just illegal, but dangerous.
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“In spite of repeated warnings and advice from the Environment Agency, Lincs Demolition, under Charles’ direction, put both the environment and public health at risk.
“Asbestos causes serious health problems when inhaled, and its careless storage presents a significant hazard, with a risk to the life.
“With Charles failing to pay for appropriate staff training and safe storage among other liabilities, Lincs Demolition avoided business costs of at least £50,000.
“All waste businesses must have the correct permits in place to protect themselves, the environment and the public. We support operators trying to do the right thing, only issuing enforcement notices and penalising businesses as a last resort.”
Recorder Paul Mann told Charles he was “just” able to suspend the sentence for a period of two years so Charles could pay the Environment Agency’s costs to be decided later and compensation to the owners of the Welbourn containers for the not insignificant costs they had incurred in cleaning up the site.
Lincoln Crown Court was told Charles, of Caldicot Gardens, Grantham, admitted to lying to customers and giving false paperwork to disguise his deception.
He’ll be back in court on 13 June, when a proceeds of crime order against him will be decided.
Charles pleaded guilty to two counts of operating a waste operation without a permit between 2017 and 2019, contrary to Regulations 12, 38(1)(a) and 41(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.