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June 7, 2023

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Harmful asbestos stored near school and girl guide centre by conman ordered to pay more than £80,000 

A conman who deceived customers over the disposal of harmful asbestos in more than 40 towns and cities across England has been ordered to pay back £82,100 and given a suspended sentence.

Lee Charles, 40, of Caldicot Gardens, Grantham, in Lincolnshire, stored the waste asbestos in hired storage containers at Welbourn, Lincolnshire – 200 metres from a school and close to a Girl Guide centre.

Working under the name Lincs Demolition Limited, Charles claimed he was registered to remove asbestos to gain lucrative jobs from Dorking to Doncaster over two years – but he had no legal permit to carry out the work.

His crime was discovered when he failed to pay the rent on the storage containers and they were forced open – but he moved his operation to an unpermitted waste site 16 miles away near Sleaford.

The Environment Agency carried out a financial investigation into the lawful costs he avoided from his crimes.

Charles pleaded guilty to lying to customers and giving false paperwork and at Lincoln Crown Court last month (May 22) he was ordered to pay thousands of pounds under the Proceeds of Crime Act. 

Costing the UK “£600million”

Paul Salter, an Environmental Waste Crime Officer for the Environment Agency, said: “Lee Charles’ crimes were not just illegal, but dangerous.

“He has been ordered to pay back, and this sends out a clear message to others who flout the law that waste crime does not pay.

“Not only do we use environmental law to prosecute those who abuse the environment, but we also use the Proceeds of Crime legislation to ensure that criminals are deprived of the benefits of their illegal activity.

“We support legitimate businesses, and we are proactively supporting them by disrupting and stopping the criminal element backed up by the threat of tough enforcement as in this case.

“We continue to use intelligence-led approaches to target the most serious crimes and evaluate which interventions are most effective.”

In 2015, illegal waste activity was estimated to cost over £600million in England, with the figure for the UK likely to be much higher.

The Environment Agency’s permit system and regulation aims to enable businesses to carry out their operations without irresponsible or illegal operators undercutting them.

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