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Duo made £2,600,000 from illegally burying toxic waste next to mansion


A pair used an old aluminium works to dump tons of toxic waste – in a £2.6m scam (Picture: Wales News Service)

A wealthy businessman buried truckloads of toxic waste next to his historic mansion before he tried to sell the property for £750,000.

Howard Rees, 65, and his accomplice Hew Leyshon, 53, pocketed a combined £2.6 million after concealing the waste on land next to the grade-II listed Rheola House in south Wales.

The pair tried to hide the illegal activity by using huge excavators and then flattening the ground on top, Swansea Crown Court heard.

They plotted to dump biohazardous waste from hospitals including used syringes and clinical tools.

Rees pocketed £1.4 million in the scam, before he sold Rheola House for £750,000 earlier this year.

The property in Resolven, near Neath, was designed by Buckingham Palace architect John Nash.

Cattle farmer Leyshon made £1.2 million in the scheme.

The court heard a surveillance operation was launched following a tip-off that the site was being used as an illegal dumping ground.

Howard Rees, 65, pocketed £1.4m in the scam – before selling Rheola House earlier this year (Picture NRW/Wales News Service)
Huw Leyshon, 53, pocketed £1.2m in the waste scam (Picture: NRW/Wales News Service)

Investigators witnessed workers digging trenches to hide rotting household waste, shredded plastics, oil-covered car parts and scrapyard waste.

Rees’s home was searched where documents and a mobile phone was seized and he was arrested.

Officers were then led to Leyshon’s family farm in nearby Skewen where ‘hundreds’ of lorries were found arriving from scrap yards in Birmingham, the court heard.

Inspectors found household waste, biohazard waste and more at the site (Picture: NRW/Wales News Service)

Appearing in court, the pair pleaded guilty to breaking a number of environmental health laws relating to depositing controlled waste without a permit.

Rees admitted to five breaches while Leyshon admitted two.

The pair were each handed a 16 month suspended sentence and ordered payback more than £175,000 between them.

Rees was ordered to repay £66,841.77 within three months and Leyshon, of Pentwyn Farm, Skewen, £108,313.14.

A third defendant Dennis Connor, 58, from Morriston, Swansea, is set to be sentenced later this week after clinical waste from hospitals – including syringes and infectious waste bags – were found on his land.

The pair tried to hide their secret dumping activity using large excavators and then flattening land on top (Picture: NRW/Wales News Service)

Martyn Evans, southwest area manager for Natural Resources Wales, said: ‘We hope the outcome of this case will send out a positive message to those who seek to profit by breaking the law, that NRW will not tolerate harming local communities or damaging the environment.

‘The impact of these activities went beyond the boundaries of the defendants’ land and affected the wider area.

‘Disposing of waste illegally undermines businesses that invest in the required measures and so it is essential that we take action in such cases to protect people and the environment, as well as safeguarding the marketplace for legitimate operators.’

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