North West Wales

William O'Grady 'made millions' from dumping, judge rules

A businessman who ran one of the biggest illegal waste dumps ever seen in north Wales made millions of pounds from his crimes, a judge has ruled.

William O'Grady, of Caernarfon, Gwynedd, must pay £213,500 within six months or face two years in prison.

A judge in the financial hearing at Mold Crown court ruled his crimes generated more than £8m, although only a fraction was recoverable.

But it was claimed O'Grady made more than £44m from his criminal lifestyle.

The case involved the illegal dumping of waste at three locations in Caernarfon, one of which is believed to have been one of the biggest illegal landfill sites in north Wales.

It was claimed that an estimated 29,000 tonnes of construction waste had been dumped illegally at Bryn Awelon and at a site near the defendant's home at Tyddyn Whisgin, Caeathro.

Then in 2007, around 1,500 tonnes of waste was dumped on land next to the Foryd Bay nature reserve - a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

In 2008, a further 27,500 tonnes of construction waste was dumped near Tyddyn Whisgin.

It included bricks, plastic, wood, glass, plaster and insulation fibres.

Illiterate

O'Grady and two companies he ran were tried and convicted at Chester Crown Court in December 2011.

O'Grady and the two companies - W M O'Grady (Haulage and Plant Hire) Ltd and Gwynedd Skip Hire Limited (Caernarfon) - were found guilty of 12 counts of illegal deposit of mixed waste at Bryn Awelon and Tyddyn Whisgin.

He and Gwynedd Skip Hire Limited were also found guilty of five counts of deposit of controlled waste at Bryn Farm, and duty of care offences.

Following that trial, O'Grady received a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was ordered to carry out 300 hours unpaid work. He was also disqualified from being a company director for five years.

On Monday, the financial hearing in Mold under the Proceeds of Crime Act was told O'Grady continued to protest his innocence.

Judge Philip Hughes had listened to prosecution and defence submissions at Llandudno last week, and said that while the defendant was unable to read, he had no doubt that he had overcome what disadvantage he had to become a shrewd and successful businessman.

But the judge said he was satisfied O'Grady had a criminal lifestyle.

Environment Agency Wales, which brought the prosecution, suggested he had made more than £44m from his activities.

But the judge said he had concluded there would be a serious risk of injustice if he made the assumptions the prosecution were asking him to make.

Just over £62,600 of the £213,500 O'Grady must pay will be used as compensation to Environment Agency Wales.

It will cover the monitoring of the Tyddyn Whisgin site for two years to determine the best way of dealing with the waste, amid concern that moving the waste could cause more environmental harm.

Nominal confiscation awards of £1 were made against each of the companies, which are now in administration.

Following the hearing, a spokesperson from Environment Agency Wales said: "We want to send a clear message to criminals that we will not only prosecute them for environmental offences but also pursue them for benefits derived from their illegal activities. This should serve as a deterrent to those intent on breaking the law and hoping to profit from their crime.

"This is important not only for the sake of the environment and people's health, but also for the wider waste industry. It's important that businesses that work within the law are not disadvantaged by illegal operators.

"We will continue to regulate this industry to ensure a level playing field for all businesses in the waste sector."

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