Couple dumping rubbish in own garden for at least 10 months
A three foot high ‘mountain’ of dirty nappies is among the large quantity of waste a Ballinrobe couple have continually refused to remove from their own back garden, a court has heard.
Tom and Ann Sweeney of 7, Gort na Cloch, Ballinrobe, failed to appear before Castlebar District Court last week for prosecutions relating to them dumping waste in their back garden and refusing to remove it since Mayo County Council first investigated the issue in August 2011. The couple have four children, aged from seven to two, who live in the house.
Upon viewing pictures of the garden taken only last week, Judge Mary Devins expressed her shock at what she described as a ‘mountain’ of nappies and said the dumping was ‘utterly shocking’.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything worse than the photo of the nappies,” she said.
Des Hannick, Environmental Enforcement Officer with Mayo County Council, said that the amount of rubbish in the garden would fill two skips and that he had received a number of complaints from local residents about vermin and the smell from the rubbish.
He said that while initially the rubbish was in the body of the garden, it was now so large in volume that it was pushing up against the back door of the house. It included household rubbish, overflowing bins and the nappies, located close to the back door of the house, he told the court.
The Sweeneys were up for two charges under the Waste Management Act. They were charged under Section 33 of the Act, holding waste in a manner that causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution, and Section 55 - where the local authority instructs works to be undertaken and they are not complied with.
Mr Hannick added that Mayo County Council had given the Sweeneys ‘more than an ample opportunity’ to remove the rubbish.
He told the court that he first called to the house on August 19, leaving a note informing them of their breaches. He said that several letters were sent out in the intervening months and Mr Hannick called a total of seven times to the Sweeney house, in August, September, November, January, February and twice in May. He said that between September and November a skip had been placed in the garden but when that was removed, there was still a large volume of rubbish remaining.
He said that, on two separate occasions, in September and February, Tom Sweeney informed him that he was sorting out the problem.
Describing the dumping as ‘appalling’, Ward McEllin, Solicitor for Mayo County Council, said the council had ‘bent over backwards’ in this case. He said that it was his hope that the Sweeneys would be in court where they might be asked to remove the rubbish or go to jail.
Judge Mary Devins issued a bench warrant for their arrest.
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