Somerset scrap dealer Wayne Hillard has been ordered to pay more than £400,000 for running an illegal car breakers yard. The case was brought by the Environment Agency following a joint investigation with Avon and Somerset Police.
Appearing before Taunton Crown Court on March 2, 2020, Hillard was warned he would face a three year prison sentence if he failed to pay the penalty imposed under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Hillard, 42, claimed he was only repairing cars when Agency officers visited his premises at Springway Farm, Westonzoyland in January 2015. They suspected he was dismantling scrap cars. He had previously been told he must obtain an environmental permit if he intended to dismantle vehicles at the site.
Dismantlers are required by law to remove all hazardous components and materials from End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) including batteries, oils, brake fluids and airbag cylinders. Sites must have special facilities including impermeable concrete floors to ensure spills of hazardous liquids are contained and do not cause pollution.
In February 2017, an Agency officer visited Springway Farm and noticed a number of car engines stored on wooden pallets. Hillard said he had purchased them from a business in Manchester, but was unable to provide any receipts.
Suspecting the engines were from vehicles dismantled at Springway Farm, the officer served Hillard with a notice requiring him to supply waste transfer notes for all wastes including hazardous wastes brought onto or exported from the site between January 1, 2016 and February 17, 2017.
Audits of local permitted scrap metal dealers later confirmed Hillard had been paid approximately £84,000 for car shells, engines, batteries, ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals over a 20 month period from January 2016.
In addition to payments received from his local scrap metal dealer, Hillard would have made money from the sale of re-usable vehicle parts from his illegal business including the export of components to Greece and Georgia.
Proceeds of Crime investigators discovered Hillard made £1.3 million from his offending over a six year period and was still operating illegally including exporting vehicle parts after pleading guilty to offences in 2018.
“This prosecution is the result of a prolonged period of offending. We provided the defendant with advice and guidance over a number of years, yet he chose to ignore us and continued to dismantle vehicles at an illegal site. This gave him an unfair advantage over law-abiding operators and risked polluting the environment,” said an Environment Agency spokesperson.
Dr Kirstie Cogram, from Avon and Somerset Police Financial Investigation Unit, said: ‘We’re committed to pursuing offenders through the courts using the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize their ill-gotten gains.
‘We hope this case will act as a deterrent to others and send out a clear message that crime does not pay.’
Hillard was ordered to pay £384,100 plus costs of £16,629. He was also given an 18 month conditional discharge. The judge said that if he re-offends and is prosecuted he would then face sentencing for both this and the new offence.