Businessman who broke waste laws and tried to hide money is jailed


A Co Down businessman has been jailed for nine months for storing more than 2,000 tonnes of illegal waste, including asbestos.

John Paul Braniff (34), of Carnreagh Road, Ballynhinch, pleaded guilty to two charges of treating controlled waste likely to cause to pollution to the environment or damage to human health.

He also pleaded guilty to single charges of unlawfully dumping controlled waste and keeping controlled waste on his land.

The offences were committed over a three month period between August and October 2011 at two adjacent properties on Carnreagh Road.

Downpatrick Crown Court heard today that it will cost the public purse around £240,000 to clean up the pollution.

Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Piers Grant said Braniff had shown “little insight into his offending or remorse for his behaviour”.

He imposed a sentence of 18 months, ordering Braniff to spend nine months in custody and a further nine months on licence following his release.

The court heard Braniff was previously told by the NI Environment Agency to stop keeping waste on his land, but this was ignored.

Prosecutor Sam Magee said during follow-up inspections in 2011, officials found further piles of waste including asbestos, tyres, plastics, building materials and rubble.

He said during the inspections, a number of fires had been burning which had left an “acrid smell” in the air, and that “2,200 tonnes of mixed commercial and household waste was deposited on his land” – which had a total loss to the public purse in landfill tax and VAT of around £252,000.

Mr Magee said that in 2009, Braniff was operating Amber Skip Hire and had been served notices not to keep waste on his land and to remove it.

The court heard Braniff told NIEA officials “he didn’t care if there were court cases”.

Judge Grant told Braniff he demonstrated “evasion, obfuscation and obstruction”, swearing an affadavit that he had just one bank account.

Investigators later discovered another one, and he told them: “It slipped my mind.”

The court heard he made unexplained withdrawals of £60,000 in the days immediately before and immediately after swearing the affidavit.

The judge said: “It was clearly an attempt to mislead the court and he was deliberately trying to hide his assets.”