A waste criminal who went on the run after illegally stockpiling over 1,200 tonnes of waste wood on an industrial estate in Uckfield, East Sussex has been jailed for 12 months.
Tom McCabe, 32, from Worthing, West Sussex, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on 22 August after pleading guilty to the offence. He was also ordered to pay £3,000 in 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, Kim Box, after leasing land at the Squires Industrial Estate in Easons Green, Uckfield.
Mr McCabe obtained a permit exemption for this activity from the Environment Agency but under 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 EA requiring Mr McCabe to clear the site but he ignored it, sold the company for £1, and went on the run.
As the EA’s specialist crime officers continued to trace Mr McCabe’s whereabouts, in July 2015 Miss Box was sentenced at Hove Crown Court to a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work. His Honour Judge Hayward acknowledged she was not the main operator of the business and that all efforts should be made to find Mr McCabe as he was “a crook”.
Mr 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 Mr 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.”
On 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.”