A man had his car seized for dumping two bags of rubbish in some bushes. 24-year-old James Whieldon is the first victim of Stoke-on-Trent City Council's new powers to take possession of a vehicle they believe to be involved in 'waste crime'. Whieldon, has also been left £500 out of pocket after the authority prosecuted him for abandoning the bin bags on the side of the road in Fenton. Stafford Magistrates' Court heard Whieldon, of Cheadle, Staffordshire, was planning to drop the household waste at the tip on his way to work, but ran out of time. Instead he flung two rubbish-filled bin bags out of his car because he could not put up with the smell. Council officials then discovered the waste and traced him from paperwork found inside.
Following the case council leader Dave Conway said: "This was the first time we have used these powers but by no means will it be the last."
Prosecutor Trevor Vernon, representing the authority at Stafford Magistrates' Court, said: "On December 4, an environmental crime officer found two black bags of waste in Duke Street, Fenton.
The officer searched the bags and retrieved receipts and invoices relating to an address in Cheadle, with the name Kelly Whieldon.
The authority wrote to Mrs Whieldon inviting her to be interviewed under caution. She said it was her husband who had deposited the waste."
Whieldon's car was then traced and confiscated. The council has a right to seize a vehicle suspected of involvement in fly-tipping, under The Control of Waste (dealing with seized property) Regulations 2015.
The owner has 15 days to produce documents to show they are entitled to the vehicle. If a vehicle is not claimed in 15 days it will be sold or destroyed.
Meanwhile, the owner is charged for both the recovery and storage of the car – which in Whieldon's case amounted to £240.
Whieldon pleaded guilty to depositing controlled waste without a permit.
Richard Oldroyd, mitigating, said his client had never been in any trouble before and the offence was 'a moment of madness'.
He added: "Their bins were full and his wife asked him to drop off two bags on his way to work. He was giving a friend a lift home, who complained about the smell.
He would've dropped them at Sideway but he did not have time. When he completed his shift the smell in the car was overpowering.
"He made the foolish decision to deposit it in a residential area. Clearly he hadn't thought matters out." Magistrates handed Whieldon a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £265 in court costs and charges, in addition to what he he had to pay to retrieve his car.
Council leader Dave Conway has warned more fly-tippers will have their vehicles confiscated if they are caught illegally dumping rubbish.
He said: "This week we have seized a second vehicle but we are not stopping there.
Our approach towards fly-tipping and environmental crime is zero-tolerance. Not only does the council have to clean it up but ultimately it is taxpayers who foot the bill.
The tide is really starting to turn against fly-tippers and I'm pleased those who are responsible are starting to pay the price."