A Manorhamilton resident has been spared six months in jail after he had between 30 and 50 bags of rubbish cleared from his back garden in the space of 48 hours, Sligo District Court heard last Friday.
Lee Ashley, St Patrick’s Terrace, Manorhamilton had allowed the bags of rubbish to reach door height amid fears of a “rodent problem” Manorhamilton District Court was told on May 12.
Judge Kevin Kilrane told that court that if the defendant did not have all the rubbish cleared from his back garden by last Friday, he would be jailed for six months.
That court was told that the defendant had promised to have the bags removed from his back garden at a previous hearing.
It was also told that the local Tidy Towns Committee had to clear up another area that the defendant had considerable rubbish accumulated.
English native Ashley pleaded guilty to a charge that at a disused site at a junction of Commons Lane and Teapot Lane, he deposited household refuse as to create litter on July 22 last year.
He also pleaded guilty to a charge that he disposed of waste in a manner that would cause environmental pollution on the same date and at the same location.
And he pleaded guilty to a charge that he transferred the control of waste to any person other than the appropriate person on the same date and at the same location.
Leitrim County Council Solicitor Frank Gearty said the case had been put back for him to clean up his back garden.
And the local Tidy Towns Committee had cleaned another area that was full of rubbish.
The Council visited his premises on a number of occasions, but he failed to take the rubbish away.
The defendant was written to on March 26 but as of the day before the sitting in Manorhamilton, nothing was done, and the rubbish was now up to “door height”.
There was an estimated 30 to 50 bags of rubbish in the back yard of the defendant’s rented residence.
Mr Gearty said “there is probably a rodent problem” and this was a matter of considerable concern.”
He added that this can’t continue and the Council “will act as a responsible body.”
He said the Council would be contacting the owner of the residence to see if this can be sorted out and if necessary, the Council would go in and clean out the rubbish.
Judge Kevin Kilrane wondered why the defendant was not doing what he should be doing.
The court was told the defendant had previously said he was going to get someone to help him to clear away the rubbish.
The defendant said the “guy who I asked would not do it and a few others would not do it either. It’s a slow process.”
When asked how he could get rid of these bags of rubbish that were of major concern to neighbours and the environment, the defendant said he knew nothing other than getting a wheelbarrow and taking the bags to the recycling centre.
Judge Kevin Kilrane said “that will not do.”
The judge said that jail must be considered.
The defendant, Mr Ashley, had come from Middlesbrough to live in a very scenic town in a well decorated area in Teapot Lane. It was a very nice area.
The defendant had deposited a different large amount of waste and local volunteers cleaned it up and the defendant did not help.
He was warned about this and given a chance to regularise matters with waste collectors. He had not done so.
Not only had he not done so but he continued to pile up rubbish which “causes an infestation of rats.”
The judge said he knew the defendant was “financially stressed” but even at that if he linked up with the Tidy Towns
Committee, some arrangement could be made to make the situation better.
“But he has done nothing.”
The judge said the defendant had let the rubbish pile up putting himself and the local community in danger.
The judge said the defendant suffers from a lack of understanding.
He added this was a “case of defiance and based on that he has to go to jail.”
The judge said he was jailing the defendant for six months.
Defence solicitor Kieran Ryan said the defendant had no previous convictions and asked the court to consider a CSO/suspended sentence.
Judge Kilrane said he heard the solicitor, but he was not changing his mind as this was defiance which could not be tolerated.
And a CSO would not have much meaning for a man who had no “concern or respect for the community in which he lives,” he added.
The defendant said it was not defiance and when he came to Manorhamilton first he suffered from depression, and it was hard getting out.
“I came here for a new start. It is not a case of defiance it is a case of motivating myself and I have talked to no-one. I understand you want to jail me, it is not defiance.”
He added that he had been engaged with a Men’s Shed group, but due to Covid this had stopped.
Mr Ryan said the Men’s Shed group helped to cater for people who live in isolation to help them cope with that situation.
The solicitor asked the court to give the defendant one last chance until June.
Judge Kilrane said it would be adjourned to last Friday in Sligo, two days after the Manorhamilton sitting.
And every last bag would need to be removed or the defendant would be jailed for six months.
The judge added that this was the “first I heard about depression.”
Meanwhile, at last Friday’s sitting in Sligo, Leitrim County Council solicitor Frank Gearty told the court that the defendant had since put his house in order.
The general waste had been removed as directed by the court and the property had been inspected by the local authority and they were happy to confirm that situation.
The court heard that in those circumstances, given the financial circumstances of the defendant, notwithstanding that there were significant costs, the Council would not be seeking those costs from the defendant.
Defence solicitor Mr Ryan said his client was grateful for the opportunity that had been afforded to him on Wednesday, May 12 to sort out the issues.
He had been in a major panic with the thought that jail was looming for him. Mr Ryan told the court that while the defendant was willing to engage, he found it at times difficult to engage which was perhaps due to certain underlying issues.
He added that although the judge had described the defendant as “defiant” the issues arose from one of two things ‘badness or naivete.”
Mr Ryan said he thought that in the case of this defendant, it was naivete.
He had put his house in order and had confirmed and shown to the local authority that he was properly registered with Barna Waste and was aware of the significance of the consequences for him, had he not done so.
Mr Ryan said the defendant was prepared to do community service if the court felt it appropriate in the circumstances.
Judge Kilrane referred to an initial dumping of waste on another site and it had taken the local Tidy Towns to “come and roll up their sleeves” to tidy it up.
Despite that, and the issuing of summonses, he still went on and dumped more rubbish in the back garden of his residence.
The defendant had also breached an undertaking that he had given the court last February.
However, the judge said it was a case of naivete having heard the defendant in court and hearing the interventions made by Mr Ryan on his behalf.
But the judge said he wanted to make clear that “this country was not a soft touch when it comes obeying laws.”
If this defendant did not obey the laws of this country, he would face the consequences.
The judge said that on Wednesday, May 12 he was absolutely determined to send the defendant to jail.
But on hearing Mr Ryan’s submissions on his behalf, the judge had been prepared to give the defendant one last chance. He was glad to see that the defendant had availed of that chance.
The judge said that if there was any repetition of this then he will go to prison.
He added if any matter came up in the future the defendant’s history of non-compliance will be available to the court.
The judge added he understood that the defendant was a man of very limited means but acknowledged that there was a huge cost involved both to the local authority in manpower and costs involved in dealing with the matter.
However, he said there was no point in making an order for costs given his financial circumstances.
In convicting the defendant on all three charges, the judge said he was fining him a total of €300 on all three charges with four months to pay.
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