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Knock litter louts receive jail terms

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Pictured is just some of the 8.2 tonnes of rubbish dumped at a sportsground at Carramore, Knock last year. A local woman was jailed in connection with some of the dumping this week.
‘DISGUSTING’ Pictured is just some of the 8.2 tonnes of rubbish dumped at a sportsground at Carramore, Knock last year. A local woman was jailed in connection with some of the dumping this week.

Knock litter louts get jail terms


Locals forced to clean-up after ‘disgusting’ illegal dumping by husband and wife

Edwin McGreal

Castlebar
edwinmcgreal@mayonews.ie

Despite living in what a local judge has described as an ‘extremely fine’ and ‘spotless’ house with no mortgage to pay, one local couple have repeatedly dumped large quantities of their household rubbish in public areas in the picturesque village of Knock.
Local people and Mayo County Council have been forced to clean-up after the couple. However, on Friday last a local district court judge said it was time to stop ‘pussy footing around’ such behaviour and issued jail terms to both husband and wife.
Parents of four Ann and Jason Coffey of Ballyhowley, Knock, failed to appear before Castlebar District Court on Wednesday last. In their absence, Judge Mary Devins sentenced Ann Coffey to three months in jail, while Jason Coffey received a three-month suspended jail term.
The court heard that illegal dumping at a sports ground at Carramore, Knock, just behind the local national school, was investigated by Mayo County Council on February 22, 2011. Evidence was found relating to Ann Coffey in some of the rubbish. It is believed that a number of other people also used this site for illegal dumping.
The Board of Management of the local school organised a clean-up which was carried out by local volunteers. Mayo County Council assisted with machinery hire and disposal of the rubbish to landfill, which costed a total of €1,455.64.
A whopping 8.2 tonnes of rubbish was removed from the sports ground.
That case against Ann Coffey was initially before court on February 17 last, but Ms Coffey failed to appear, and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. The evidence was heard in her absence with the judgement adjourned.
On the same date, a case was also heard against Ms Coffey for illegal dumping at the recycling banks at Knock Car Park. In her absence, she was convicted, fined €1,500 and ordered to pay an additional €834 in solicitor and clean-up costs.
Last week’s court heard she had not paid any of these fines.
The sports-ground dumping case appeared in court in June and July last and was adjourned on both occasions. By this stage Ann Coffey’s husband Jason was also before the court for illegal dumping too.
That hearing was adjourned until last Wednesday, to be heard in tandem with his wife’s case. There, Des Hannick, Environmental Enforcement Officer for Mayo County Council, gave Judge Devins details of the case against Jason Coffey.

A Google street-view image of Ann and Jason Coffey’s house in Ballyhowley, Knock. Judge Mary Devins was shown such an image in court where the couple were convicted of dumping rubbish in the nearby village of Knock.
‘SPOTLESS’ A Google street-view image of Ann and Jason Coffey’s house in Ballyhowley, Knock. Judge Mary Devins was shown such an image in court where the couple were convicted of dumping rubbish in the nearby village of Knock.

Mr Coffey was charged with illegal dumping at the recycling and bottle banks at Carramore, Knock. Security cameras installed by ETI Security after repeated cases of illegal dumping recorded Mr Coffey dumping two refuse bags there on September 6, 2011, and three more bags on September 14, 2011. Mr Hannick told the court that a homework note for an Annie Coffey was found in one of the bags. The bags contained household waste.
Defending solicitor Cathy McDarby said that both her clients had failed to appear on a previous occasion, and that they had contacted her office to say they would not be attending this case due to the death of a relative. Telling Judge Devins that she stressed the importance of their court attendance for this latest hearing, Ms McDarby said: “I told them that even if both of them had deceased, their bodies were to be in court.” Nevertheless, neither defendant appeared in court.
Judge Devins heard that the Coffeys lived about 1.5 miles from the sites where the dumping took place. A Google street-view image of the Coffeys house was handed to the court. Ward McEllin, solicitor for Mayo County Council, told the court that the house is in Ann Coffey’s name and has no mortgage. Commenting on the property, which is less than six years old, Judge Devins said it was an ‘extremely fine house’ and ‘was spotless’.
Ward McEllin said there were refuse services in the area that the family could sign up to. Both defendants are in receipt of social welfare, the court heard. Ward McEllin added there was ‘no excuse’ for this behaviour. Judge Devins said it was incredible that the rubbish would be left so close to a school and local people would have to deal with ‘this filth’.
Judge Devins asked, “Is it about time a custodial sentence was handed down for this type of anti-social behaviour?’ Prosecuting solicitor for Mayo County Council, Ward McEllin replied that it was. Judge Devins added that it was ‘very hard’ to understand what was going on in their minds, while Ward McEllin described it as ‘disgusting’ behaviour to dump rubbish in public.
Judge Devins convicted Ann Coffey under Section 32 of the Waste Management Act 1996 and sentenced her to three months in prison. She also fined Ann Coffey €2,000 and ordered her to pay €2,445 for legal and clean-up costs.
Jason Coffey was convicted in relation to the offences on both dates under Section 3(1) of the Litter Pollution Act 1997 and sentenced to three months in prison. That prison sentence suspended for 12 months on the condition that no further offences are committed in that period. Mr Coffey was also fined €1,750 and ordered to pay costs of €2,000.

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