Dumpers who fled from court given two years in jail

The law caught up with two men who had earlier run away from court when in February they were sentenced to two years in prison for chemical waste dumping. The sentences, which exceed those handed down last year for a notorious clinical waste dumping case, appear to be the toughest so far for an environmental offence.

Michael and William Maitchell had been paid to dispose of waste chemicals, including isocyanates, by a Middlesbrough tyre manufacturer. The 30 drums of chemicals, pickaxed to make them drain, were subsequently discovered by chance at a former travellers' site near Stockton (ENDS Report 275, p 48 ). The clean-up operation cost £20,000.

Sentencing the Maitchells at Teesside Crown Court, the judge said: "You duped the Green Tyre Company into believing that you were a toxic waste company [by] using a borrowed [waste carriers'] certificate." He added: "It must be made clear that anyone who engages in the fly-tipping of toxic waste can expect custody."

The men had run away from the court just before they were due to be sentenced in December. They were subsequently tracked down at a benefits office on 27 December.

It is not clear whether in his sentencing decision the judge took account of the men's conduct in fleeing the court room. But it is surprising that the jail terms exceed the 18 months given last September to the director of Green Environmental Industries after he had systematically duped hospitals into paying him to collect clinical waste only to dump it in warehouses - costing Hertfordshire County Council £209,000 to clean up (ENDS Report 272, pp 45-46 ).

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