A man is to have his van crushed after he was found guilty of dumping waste including furniture on a country lane.
Magistrates in Newton Aycliffe approved Durham County Council’s application to destroy Thomas Adey’s vehicle after the 37-year-old pleaded guilty to depositing controlled waste.
It is the first time the council has applied to a court to crush a vehicle connected with flytipping.
Adey, of Coniston Avenue, in Easington Lane, initially denied the flytipping offence but changed his plea to guilty on the day of his trial.
The court heard an off-duty police officer had witnessed a white Ford Transit being driven onto the lane beside Croxdale Fast Fit Centre on the A167 near Chester-le-Street at 4.50am on Saturday, January 27 this year.
The van was loaded with old furniture and waste, prompting the police officer to approach the track to see what was going on.
He heard a series of “crash and bangs” and then saw the same vehicle drive back out onto the A167 without the rubbish.
The police officer took down the vehicle’s registration number, and the van was traced back to Adey, who was subsequently summoned to an interview with the council’s neighbourhood wardens.
He failed to attend, but on March 7 a council warden discovered Adey’s vehicle unattended and unlocked in a petrol station forecourt in Stanley.
The warden seized the vehicle under The Control of Waste Regulations 2015, and sent a letter to Adey to inform him of the seizure.
On March 15, Adey attended an interview at Chester-le-Street Police Station and denied responsibility for the flytipping.
Shortly after the interview, the neighbourhood wardens witnessed Adey removing a metal DVD player from the garden of a nearby property.
On seeing the wardens, Adey dropped the item onto the footpath and walked away, thus committing a further offence of littering.
In mitigation, Adey’s solicitor said his client’s late guilty plea was owing to the fact that the full details of the case against him were not clear until the day of his trial.
Magistrates also heard Adey had shown empathy over the impact of flytipping on the environment.
As well as the forfeiture and destruction of his vehicle, Adey was sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work and must pay £350 costs.
Ian Hoult, neighbourhood protection manager at Durham County Council, said: “Although we have seized vehicles connected with flytipping before, this is the first time we have applied to crush one.
“By taking this action we are not only preventing this van from being used for flytipping again, but we are taking an old and unsafe vehicle off the road and sending out a clear message that the illegal disposal of waste will not be tolerated.
“I would also urge anyone considering paying someone to get rid of rubbish on their behalf to make sure that person has a valid Waste Carriers Licence issued by the Environment Agency.
"They should also find out where their waste will be deposed.
"Otherwise, they could find themselves caught up in a fly-tipping investigation."