Serial fly-tipper fined over £6,000

Bins, recycling and street cleansing

14 June 2023

Fly tipping at side of road

A fly-tipper from Wellingborough has been fined over £6,000, sentenced to 12 months community order, 220 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from driving for 6 months, following a recent court case.

Mr John Cowley of 64 Queensway, Wellingborough was found guilty of six counts of fly-tipping during a hearing at Northampton Magistrates Court on 7 June 2023.

In January 2022, Officers from North Northamptonshire Council investigated a case of fly-tipping in the Slips, Harrowden Lane, Finedon, followed by further incidents on Hardwick Road and a layby in Harrowden at later dates. All the incidents were extremely large, one was burnt out and required the fire services, whilst another blocked the road.

A pattern started to emerge, but Officers needed more evidence to confirm where the waste was coming from. Several interviews and witness statements helped link the evidence together and the suspect was called in for an interview, during which Mr Cowley admitted six counts of fly-tipping.

Mr Cowley’s case was originally heard at Wellingborough Magistrates Court in April 2023, where he pleaded guilty to six counts of fly-tipping under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The court decided that they would pass the sentencing to Magistrates Court, due to the extreme volume and seriousness of the case.

On 7 June 2023, Mr Cowley attended court where NNC’s legal team suggested that these activities were deliberate and, as such, were appropriate to be considered as category 2 and 3 offences. This was due to the significant costs incurred, the use of the fire brigade, multiple tips, no attempts to assist with clean up, and that the offences were committed for financial gain. The court were also asked to use their discretion to consider disqualification from driving.

Mr John Alan Cowley was sentenced to 12 months community order, 220 hours of unpaid work, to pay all costs of over £6000, victim surcharge and was disqualified from driving for 6 months. The magistrate suggested that Mr Cowley was fortunate a custodial sentence had not been considered. 

This is a truly shocking case; the cost to the taxpayer to clear all of the fly-tipped rubbish alone was over £6,000, not to mention Officer time and the environmental impact.

His actions were selfish, for financial gain, seemingly without thought for others and left a series of unsightly messes along our lanes, which our staff have to clear.

Whilst fly-tipping, Mr Cowley took a vehicle without the owner’s consent to collect waste from residents and businesses, without having the correct licence and it emerged that he had been driving around asking if people had waste to take away for cash. This piece of information alone highlights the importance of checking you are using a Licenced Carrier when disposing of waste and asking for a receipt for any works carried out as you could, in turn, be liable.
Cllr Graham Lawman, the council’s Executive Member for Highways, Travel and Assets
Due to the hard work and determination of our Officers, the evidence shown to the offender was watertight and Mr Cowley could not deny that he was responsible.

There has been a significant decrease in fly-tips in this particular area since Officers concluded their investigation, which is excellent, and I hope this result deters anyone else from fly-tipping.
Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council

To dispose of waste responsible, please visit one of the Household Waste Recycling Centres (commonly known as ‘tips’) across the area or find out about bulky waste collection services in your area.

Fly tipping in North Northamptonshire can be reported online via the NNC website.

You can check whether someone is a registered waste carrier online via the Environment Agency website.