Prison sentences handed out for Staffordshire large-scale waste crime involving asbestos

Several people who participated in an extensive waste crime operation in the West Midlands have been sentenced to time in prison, after they were successfully prosecuted by England’s environmental protection and regulatory body.

Shrewsbury Crown Court

Following an eight-week trial in September and October 2023, sentencing of multiple convicted defendants took place at Shrewsbury Crown Court sitting at Telford Magistrates on Tuesday 2nd April 2024.

What were the details of this case?

The prosecution was in response to the large-scale illegal dumping of waste at Staffordshire’s Bonnie Braes Farm between March 2014 and June 2015. The charge period saw no less than 100,000 tonnes of waste added to the site, despite there being no legal basis for this to happen.

Such was the volume of waste at the site – including a significant quantity of waste from excavation, in addition to other mixed refuse and some asbestos – that the land was raised by six to seven metres in height.

Another matter of concern was the gas distribution pipeline passing beneath the farm, one of two pipelines supplying Stoke-on-Trent.

If this pipeline had been fractured, the implications would have been “devastating”, according to the Environment Agency. The non-departmental public body said that gas supplies would have been disrupted, and there might have been a need for the heavily used A500 road to be closed for a significant period.

Offences that brought about Category 1 environmental harm

The enormity of this waste crime operation was underscored by Mr Recorder Nicholls, who found that the deposits caused an eyesore amounting to Category 1 damage to the environment.

The weight on the site had not only detrimentally affected the gas pipeline, but also a nearby culvert, which was found to have collapsed – an event that caused the land to flood significantly in heavy rain.

The site’s operation also led to significant disruption on lanes that were not suitable for large vehicles, while mud was also tracked from the site across the roads.

Raymond Bowden, 64, and Joe Frizell, 48, were both sentenced to immediate custody, for 30 months and two years respectively. Suspended prison sentences were handed to James Bowden, 44, Victoria Webb-Johnson, 47, and Stefan Paraszko, 66.

Fines were also imposed on companies VWJ Earth Moving Limited, Jumbo Waste and Metal Limited, and TW Frizell (Haulage & Plant Hire) Ltd. While the first of those firms was fined £11,000 and ordered to pay a contribution towards prosecution costs, the latter two businesses were fined £1, due to being in liquidation.

Environment Agency vows to “continue to work tirelessly to tackle environmental crime”

A spokesperson from the Environment Agency stated that the public body was “glad to see the outcome of these prosecutions”, adding that it would “continue to work tirelessly to tackle environmental crime.”

They went on to say: “Illegal waste sites like this, undermine legitimate businesses, undercut their prices, and blight the environment.”

The Environment Agency has urged “everyone” to check the public register online at GOV.UK to determine whether a particular waste site is licensed, prior to making any decision to use it.

The spokesperson further commented that anyone suspecting criminal activity should report it to the regulator’s 24-hour incident hotline, 0800 807060, or on an anonymous basis through CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111.

You can learn more about Oracle Solutions’ own expertise in relation to asbestos – including our safe, reliable, and compliant asbestos waste collection service – by sending us an email or calling our team.