A fly-tipper was caught out when a public-spirited witness daubed a registration number on a mirror he had dumped.
John Paul Nixon, 26, of Peterlee, discarded household waste at a County Durham site blighted by fly-tipping, but unbeknown to him the act was witnessed by a passer-by.
That person daubed the registration number of the vehicle he had used on a mirror he had dumped, leading to him being caught.
Nixon has now been ordered to pay more than £700 and given a six month community order having been prosecuted by Durham County Council.
Peterlee magistrates on Monday heard how a neighbourhood warden from the council visited Warren House Gill area of Horden, a site regularly targeted by fly-tippers, on 26 October last year.
There she found several household items which had been fly-tipped, including a mirror, paint pots and plastic tubs. A registration number had been written on the mirror and checks were carried out on the number.
Around the same time, the council was contacted by a member of the public who had seen the waste deposited from a red car. He had written the vehicle’s registration number on the mirror.
The registered keeper of the vehicle was identified and when contacted she advised that she had loaned the car to Nixon, her neighbour. The intention was for him to take her waste to a household waste recycling centre.
The warden called at Nixon’s Manor Way home and interviewed him, with the defendant denying dumping the waste. Further investigations were carried out and a second interview conducted, with Nixon again denying fly-tipping.
The defendant initially pleaded not guilty to a charge of depositing controlled waste on land which does not benefit from an environmental permit but changed his plea to guilty.
The court heard Nixon has not been before a court in five years and has no previous convictions for fly-tipping. He was ordered to pay £676 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
A six month community order was also imposed, to include five days rehabilitation.
The prosecution was part of Operation Stop It! a campaign to reduce fly-tipping in which the council works with Durham Constabulary, Crimestoppers and the Environment Agency.
Ian Hoult, the council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “I would like to say a big thank you to the community-minded member of the public who had the good sense to make a note of the registration number, write it on the mirror and then report this incident to us.
“Without their actions, we might not have been able to trace Mr Nixon and take the action we did.
“We would urge people with information on anyone spoiling our countryside to follow this person’s lead and report it to us, which they can do anonymously.
“I would also remind the public that we do have a number of household waste recovery centres across the county where people can take the majority of their waste free of charge.
“There is never any excuse for fly-tipping – reuse, recycle or get rid of your waste legally but if giving it to someone please ask them where they are taking it.”
Find out where the centres are at http://www.durham.gov.uk/hwrc
Find out how to report fly-tipping at http://www.durham.gov.uk/flytipping