Man's record jail term for environment crime
PUBLISHED: 11:49 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:53 11 May 2010
A MAN described as a career criminal has been jailed for a record 32 months after illegally dumping 85 tonnes of waste. Harvey Stuart Gibson, of the Meadows, Litlington, received the sentence, a record for crimes against the environment, at Reading Crow
A MAN described as "a career criminal" has been jailed for a record 32 months after illegally dumping 85 tonnes of waste.
Harvey Stuart Gibson, of the Meadows, Litlington, received the sentence, a record for crimes against the environment, at Reading Crown Court, after pleading guilty to charges of illegally depositing and disposing of controlled waste.
Gibson, an undischarged bankrupt, also pleaded guilty to managing a company while disqualified by a court order. He was also ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.
Environment Agency officer Rod Gould, who co-ordinated the investigation, said: "Harvey Gibson was a serious, well-organised, career criminal, who made environmental crime his professional business, with no regard for current or future generations.
"The decision by the court is the culmination of a four-year effort to ensure Mr Gibson is held accountable for his crimes."
The court had been told that Gibson masterminded the large-scale illegal transfer of waste between 2004 and 2006.
It was collected from businesses across north London and the Home Counties via his waste transfer business, Massey and Sons, and taken to a disused quarry in Tidmarsh, Berkshire, and a field in Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire.
Waste was then burned, buried, or disposed of in an illegal quarrying operation at Tidmarsh and, it is believed, a location in Buckinghamshire.
Investigators from Operation Sentinel, a multi-agency project co-ordinated by the Environment Agency, entered both sites with diggers, and found large quantities of waste buried.
Jenny Thomas, the Environment Agency's groundwater quality technical specialist, had told the court that the burying of waste on the Tidmarsh site meant that dangerous substances, such as ammonia, could enter the groundwater.
"Once a contaminant has entered the groundwater, the consequences for the communities' water supplies and local river flora and fauna can be extremely serious," she said.
"Once it has become contaminated, chalk groundwater is virtually impossible to clean up."
Evidence was also submitted to the court that Gibson knowingly stored and burned large quantities of controlled waste at his site in Watford, contravening the site's waste management licence.
Mr Gould said: "These crimes were committed for pure financial gain, undermining legitimate business, and with absolutely no regard for the public, despite full knowledge of the risks of burning waste and burying it on top of an aquifer which supplies public drinking water.
"Mr Gibson systematically used the companies he managed to commit widespread environmental and corporate offences over a prolonged period and a wide area.