A PLYMOUTH haulier accused of dumping asbestos roofing sheets in a Dartmoor car park near Clearbrook has been acquitted by order of the judge at his trial.
Judge Erik Salomonsen instructed the jury at Plymouth Crown Court to find Steven Bostick not guilty of fly-tipping or failing to prevent another from fly-tipping in a car park at Roborough Down Lane on November 25, 2010.
But he was convicted of failing to keep a written record of his load that day after changing his plea to guilty.
Andrew Maitland, prosecuting on behalf of South Hams District Council, decided to abandon the case on the first two counts because of confusion over what the fly-tipped waste weighed.
It had been claimed that the load was four tonnes, which defence barrister Nick Lewin said was twice what Bostick’s elderly Ford Transit tipper truck was officially capable of carrying.
Overnight investigations showed that the asbestos had been collected by a council contractor and taken with three other loads totalling 5.8 tonnes to a licensed landfill site.
Judge Salomonsen said there was no hard or clear evidence over what the asbestos had weighed, and with the burden of proof being on the prosecution, Mr Maitland had taken a “responsible view”.
Mr Maitland told the jury that Bostick had made 14 previous court appearances for 23 offences dating back to 1978, but most involved dishonesty or driving matters and the most recent was in 2005.
He had no convictions under the Environmental Protection Act.
Mr Lewin said this showed Bostick was trying to go straight, but had committed a technical offence.
He said the truck that day had been loaded with scrap metal and “other bits and pieces”, which he took back to his yard and disposed of legally on December 1.
He was now operating entirely legitimately under the name Sticky’s Waste Removals.
Judge Salomonsen told Bostick, aged 52 and of Sanctuary Close, Ford: “It is quite clear you are not a man with a substantial income and have the outgoings of a family man.”
He fined him £300 with £800 costs, ordering him to pay at £50 a month or face 14 days in jail in default.
Judge Salomonsen told the jury: “It is important that when people fly-tip they are pursued.”
He said the identity of the fly-tipper in Roborough Down Lane would remain unknown.
Judge Salomonsen asked the council to write to prosecution witness Keith Burridge to thank him for his public-spiritedness.
The court was told Mr Burridge had spotted a heavily-laden truck heading onto the moor, noted the registration number and checked the car-park an hour later, finding the asbestos.
Outside the court, Bostick told The Herald through his barrister that he had not been carrying asbestos and was not the fly-tipper.