Asbestos conman ordered to pay back £82,100

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A conman who toured England to deceive customers over the disposal of harmful asbestos has been ordered to pay back £82,100.

Asbestos is a hazardous substance when disturbed and carcinogenic. The UK banned its use in 1999.

Lee Charles of Caldicot Gardens, Grantham, in Lincolnshire, previously pleaded guilty in 2022 to lying to customers and giving false paperwork to hide his deception. He was given a suspended prison sentence. He had marketed himself as Lincs Demolition Limited for 2 years, claiming he was registered to remove asbestos to gain lucrative jobs from Dorking to Doncaster. He had no legal permit to carry out the work.

The defendant was back at Lincoln Crown Court, May 22, in a case brought by the Environment Agency under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Following a financial investigation into the lawful costs he avoided from his crimes.

Having duped his customers, Charles stashed the waste asbestos in hired storage containers at Welbourn, in Lincolnshire. 200 metres from a school and close to a Girl Guide centre. Charles told the owners of the storage space he wanted to keep tools there. When he failed to pay the rent on the containers, the owners forced the locks and were confronted with the dangerous contents.

An Environmental Waste Crime Officer for the Environment Agency said “These 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”.

Once exposed, Charles abandoned the storage containers at Welbourn, moving his activities to an unpermitted waste site 16 miles away near Sleaford. He continued to store asbestos unsafely, posing a risk to public health.

The Environment Agency’s permitting system enables businesses to carry out their operations, while robust regulation provides the level playing field legitimate businesses need to prevent being undercut by irresponsible or illegal operators.

For more information on managing asbestos at work, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Does our building need an asbestos survey?

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