A Newcastle man has been fined £300 after he became aggressive towards an Environment Agency officer during an investigation into the illegal burning of horse manure.
Thomas Trevor Findlay, 41, of Elston Close, Chapel House, Newcastle, was sentenced at Newcastle Magistrates Court on Monday 4 November, when he was also ordered to pay £500 in legal costs and a victim surcharge of £20.
Findlay, who runs stables on Main Road, Dinnington, with his father of the same name, became aggressive towards investigating officers when they were following up complaints of burning at the site in March 2012.
When approached by an environmental crime officer, the defendant said he was burning manure. The officer explained that burning manure was illegal and that alternative disposal should be considered, such as land spreading.
But Findlay became defensive and agitated, causing the officer to leave for personal safety reasons.
As the officer was walking away, Findlay shouted at him: “If you come back here with the police, I’ll go for you.”
And while walking back to his vehicle, the officer noticed that he was being followed by the defendant in a car, travelling at walking pace.
Investigating officers returned in April, when they again faced further aggression. They were denied access to the rear of the site, from which smoke could be seen rising.
A police officer attended in order to access the rear of the property, where horse manure could be seen burning. After a discussion Findlay said he had started the fire the previous day and apologised.
Findlay admitted one count of illegally burning controlled waste, and one count of obstructing an Environment Agency officer. For the burning offence, he was fined £100; for obstruction, he was fined £200.
David Edwardson, Environmental Crime Team Leader at the Environment Agency, said: “Waste crime is a serious offence that is punishable by law – and as such, it is a crime also to obstruct investigating officers as they go about their duties.
“Any aggression or threats of violence towards Environment Agency officers will not be tolerated. They are carrying out their duties under statutory law and any attempt to prevent them from doing so will result in legal action being taken.
“With regard to horse manure, people who run stables are reminded that burning of manure is illegal. This material should be disposed of by other means, such as landspreading. Companies that do not dispose of waste appropriately place the environment at risk and undermine legitimate businesses.”