A SUNDERLAND couple who left more than fifty bags of household waste, broken furniture and rotting dog mess in a shared backyard for weeks have been fined.
Piles of unhygienic rubbish were left to steam in the summer heat at the back of 21 Gray Road, in Hendon, after David and Lisa Barker continued to ignore environmental health officers who urged them to clean it up.
The couple, aged 33 and 39 respectively, also failed to turn up at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court, where a bench found them guilty in their absence of failing to comply with an abatement notice served under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
The pair were given 10 days to pay more than £1,100 in fines and costs.
Michelle Irving, prosecuting on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said the Barkers had been served with court papers on January 9 and had plenty of notice for the court hearing.
Mrs Irving said the married couple had lived in the top-floor flat since July 2013 and that they shared the yard with their downstairs neighbours.
“In June 2014, the council was contacted by the property’s management agent regarding the smell coming from a large quantity of rubbish in the rear yard and a significant amount of dog faeces,” Mrs Irving said.
When visiting the property envirnomental health officers found 50 bags of domestic refuse and ‘numerous piles’ of dog waste.
David Barker promised to borrow a friend’s van to take away the rubbish, but this did not happen, and, on July 2, the couple were served with an abatement notice which gave them five days to clean up the yard.
But this went unnoticed by the Barkers, and eventually, on July 14, the council gained access to the yard to remove the rubbish, at a cost of £549.
On August 26, a letter was sent to invite the Barkers to come in for an interview with environmental health officers but this was ignored.
“Hence the decision was made to bring this prosecution against Mr and Mrs Barker,” Mrs Irving said.
The court heard Lisa Barker has a previous conviction for breaching a previous abatement order issued by the council, in May last year, due to the nuisance barking of her dogs.
The Barkers were each fined £110, with £150 costs and a £20 victim surcharge. They were also told to pay half of the clean-up costs each.
Speaking after the case, Coun Michael Mordey, portfolio holder for City Services, said: “The council takes accumulated filth and public health issues like this very seriously and our Environmental Health section will investigate when these problems occur.
“We should all take a pride in our environment, and the vast majority of us want a cleaner and greener city. Behaviour like this is not acceptable.”
Anyone with concerns about rubbish, litter or fly-tipping can call the council on 520 5550.