A woman has been hit in the pocket after she refused to help council chiefs find out who dumped rubbish in the back lanes of three Sunderland streets which was traced back to her.
Janine Johnson must pay out £648 after she failed to appear at Sunderland Magistrates Court yesterday, but was found guilty in her absence, of an offence under the Environmental Act.
The court heard Johnson, 34, of Guildford Street, had failed to comply with a section 108 notice under the act requiring her to give information of the person she instructed to dispose of her waste - despite being contacted by the city’s environmental officers.
The waste was discovered after the council had been alerted to rubbish that had been dumped in the back lane of Athol Park, last May. Further black bags were found in nearby Guildford Street and Hendon Valley.
Prosecutor Jim Wotherspoon said: “Within the disposed waste, letters were found addressed to Miss Janine Johnson of Marion Street and Guildford Street. These were handed over to the environmental officer.
“The officer tried to contact her at the address in Marion Street and, after speaking to neighbours, was told she had moved. He tried to contact her at the new address.
We all have a duty to be proud of where we live and the council will continue to take action against the irresponsible minority that blight our city.Coun Amy Wilson
“She was formerly invited to attend an interview under caution. However, on June 20 she left a voicemail message saying she could not attend an interview and that she had paid someone to remove the waste.”
Mr Wotherspoon added following the voicemail message, the officer tried to contact Johnson for information and contact details of the person or persons she had paid to remove the waste.
But the court heard information wasn’t supplied and the officer was left no option but to serve the notice formerly requiring her to confirm the person who discarded the waste and how she contacted them.
Johnson was given seven days to hand over the information. However, there was no response to the request.
Magistrates found Johnson guilty in her absence and fined her £480, with £48 victim surcharge. She was also ordered to pay £120 costs.
Coun Amy Wilson, Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said: “I’m pleased to hear about what happened in court and I know many others across our city will be pleased to hear about it too.
“It’s completely unacceptable to think you can dump rubbish and waste where and whenever you like.
“Several of the council’s recent fly-tipping prosecutions have been possible because members of the public have recorded and reported what they have seen.
“Thank you to those members of the public who report fly-tipping incidents and who care about their communities.
“We all have a duty to be proud of where we live and the council will continue to take action against the irresponsible minority that blight our city.”
Back in December 2017, the Sunderland Echo launched its Clean Streets campaign in response to residents’ concerns and dismay over the state of the city’s streets due to flytipping and people dropping litter.
Since the campaign launch, Clean Streets has been backed by the council and our readers, who have alerted us to litter blackspots across Wearside.
Last year, the council agreed to increase the fines handed to people committing environmental offences. As part of this, the penalty for dropping litter went up to £150.
Anybody who has information about fly-tipping should contact the council on 520 5550.