A DELIVERY driver claimed letters addressed to him found in fly-tipped rubbish had accidentally fallen out of his van.
But Mathew Johwa was found guilty of the fly-tip and of failing to attend an interview, and was handed a legal bill of over £2,000.
Environmental protection officers from Rugby Borough Council contacted Johwa after the letters were discovered among rubbish dumped in a lay-by in Coal Pit Lane, Willey, following a report by a member of the public on September 22, 2019.
Three days later, Mr Johwa telephoned the officers after receiving a letter requesting he make contact and, when questioned about the fly-tip, claimed the letters must have fallen out of his van while he was parked in the lay-by having a sleep.
After confirming Johwa’s address with Birmingham City Council, officers sent him a further letter inviting him to attend an interview under caution. He telephoned and stated he was unable to attend the interview on the date specified due to work commitments, and was told to call back with a suitable date by the end of the following week.
When Johwa failed to call back, the council served a section 108 notice, requiring him to attend an interview on November 15, 2019.
But when he failed to attend, officers took the decision to prosecute him for both the fly-tip and the breach of the section 108 notice.
At Coventry Magistrates Court on Thursday (January 14), Johwa pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The 61-year-old, of Villa Walk, Birmingham, explained he was a self-employed delivery driver and regularly picked up parts from a distribution centre near the lay-by in Coal Pit Lane.
He accepted he had parked in the lay-by on September 20, 2019 while waiting for his pick-up slot at the distribution centre – which he claimed to do regularly – and said the letters must have fallen out of his van accidentally.
Johwa denied being responsible for dumping the other rubbish in the lay-by, and denied receiving the section 108 notice letter, blaming issues with Royal Mail delivering post to the flats where he lived.
But magistrates dismissed Johwa’s explanation and found him guilty of both charges, pointing out he had not disputed the letters discovered in the lay-by belonged to him, and he had responded to other letters from the council and received the court notice to appear before magistrates.
Johwa was fined £692 for the offences and was ordered to pay the council’s costs of £1,284 and a £69 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the hearing, Coun Howard Roberts, Rugby Borough Council’s environment and public realm spokesman, said: “Fly-tipping costs taxpayers thousands of pounds a year and we have been firm in our commitment to investigate every incident in the borough.
“In this case, Mr Johwa’s repeated failure to co-operate with our environmental protection team during the investigation left us with no other option but to take the matter to court, where magistrates rejected his explanations for how his mail was found in the lay-by and why he failed to comply with a Section 108 notice.
“Both the fine and the awarding of the council’s considerable costs demonstrate the courts treat fly-tipping as seriously as we do.”
Residents can report fly-tipping incidents to the council by completing the online form at www.rugby.gov.uk/flytipping or by calling (01788) 533533.