Doncaster siblings jailed after tyre fire
Two siblings from Doncaster who ran an illegal waste tyre business which was later destroyed in an arson attack were sentenced to nine months in prison at Sheffield Crown Court on 23 December 2011. Jane Hopkins (45) and David Squire (31) both received the sentence. Between them Jane Hopkins and David Squire had pleaded guilty to six charges related to the illegal storage of tyres.
Tyretrade Ltd held an environmental permit since September 2008, but, according to the Environment Agency (EA) had never operated within its terms, as there was always more than the agreed number of tyres on their Whitlea Grove site. The company came to the attention of the EA on 13 January 2009 when Environment Agency officers visited the site and told Hopkins and Squire that action would be taken to revoke their permit on the 30th of that month if steps were not taken to reduce the amount of tyres. Three days later Hopkins, Squire, and Tyretrade Ltd were convicted at Doncaster Magistrates Court, for previous offences related to the depositing, keeping and treating of tyres. They both received conditional discharges of two years. The company was fined a total of £24,000. The company then went into voluntary liquidation.
Less than a month after, Tyretrade Ltd was liquidated, and Tyre Trade UK Ltd was incorporated with Hopkins as the sole director. The new company took over the Whitelea Grove site previously used by the old company. Craig Hassall, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that the waste tyre collection operation had never ceased. Despite the convictions in 2008 and continued warnings from the Environment Agency, business had continued as usual.
In March 2009, the company was told that its permit was no longer valid and that the tyres were being stored illegally. Later that month, Hopkins hired a heavy duty shredder and in April she visited local companies offering tyre collection services. Surveillance of the site in April and May saw further deliveries of tyres to the site. Environment Agency officers searched the site on 17 June 2009, and while they were there another delivery of 400 tyres arrived.
Tyretrade Ltd was evicted from the Whitelea Grove site in September 2009, at which point there were an estimated 120,000 tyres left on the premises. Documents obtained by the Environment Agency show that between January and July 2009 more than 51,500 tyres were received for which Tyretrade Ltd received nearly £45,000.
In the early hours of the morning of 28 June 2010 a fire started causing a plume of thick black smoke that was visible for several miles. 72 households had to be evacuated and the cost to South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for dealing with the fire was £300,000. It also cost Doncaster Metropolitan District Council £10,000 to help those evacuated.
Craig Hassall told the court that Hopkins and Squire deliberately set up a new company to try and avoid the effects of the previous prosecution. They completely ignored repeated warnings from the Environment Agency and continued to trade in flagrant disregard of regulations. He said that the fire in June 2010 clearly demonstrated the reasons why regulations are put in place for waste tyre operations, and this would not have happened but for the defendants’ utter failure to comply with the regulations.
Summing up, Her Honour Judge Coe said: “The fire was a consequence created by your failure to comply with the regulations. I cannot ignore your lack of appreciation for the Environment Agency’s concern.” The judge said Hopkins and Squire both ignored warnings and previous identical convictions and carried on regardless. She said their actions were a “blatant disregard for the law and the efforts of the Environment Agency to enforce the law.”