Builder duped businesses in asbestos licence lie across Cambridgeshire

Large quantities of Asbestos was removed illegally.

Large quantities of Asbestos was removed illegally. - Credit: Environment Agency

A man duped businesses in Huntingdon, St Ives and across Cambridgeshire to win high-value asbestos removal contracts.

Lee Charles, of Lincolnshire, deceived 40 customers across the country over the disposal of harmful asbestos. 

A court heard that Lee marketed himself as Lincs Demolition Ltd for two years, claiming he was registered to remove asbestos to gain lucrative jobs.

He had no legal permit to carry out the work. 

Lee duped businesses in Huntingdon, Peterborough, Cambridge, St Ives, Boston, Grantham and 36 other places.

Some of the asbestos that was found.

Some of the asbestos that was found. - Credit: Environment Agency

He hid the asbestos in storage container in Welbourn, Lincolnshire, 200m from a school and close to a Girl Guide centre.

Owners of the storage units discovered the asbestos when Lee refused to pay for the units.

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Once exposed, Charles abandoned the storage containers at Welbourn, and moved his activities to Sleaford.

He was given a 12 month suspended prison sentence at Lincoln Crown Court. 

Charles, of Caldicot Gardens, Grantham, pleaded guilty to lying to customers and giving false paperwork to disguise his deception. 

Charles pleaded guilty to two counts of operating a waste operation without a permit between 2017 and 2019.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of keeping or disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm.

Lee Charles duped businesses across the country.

Lee Charles duped businesses across the country. - Credit: Environment Agency

Paul Salter, an environmental waste crime officer for the Environment Agency, said: “Lee Charles’ crimes were not just illegal, but dangerous.

“In spite of repeated warnings and advice from the Environment Agency, Lincs Demolition, under Charles’ direction, put both the environment and public health at risk.

“With Charles failing to pay for appropriate staff training and safe storage among other liabilities, Lincs Demolition avoided business costs of at least £50,000."

Imposing a 12-month prison sentence, recorder Paul Mann told Charles, who has a string of previous convictions for dishonesty and breaches of court orders, he “knew the regulatory regime well enough to know what he was doing was seriously wrong.”

Lee Charles stored the asbestos in storage units close to a school.

Lee Charles stored the asbestos in storage units close to a school. - Credit: Environment Agency

However, he said that he was “just” able to suspend the sentence for a period of two years so Charles could pay the Environment Agency’s costs to be decided later and compensation to the owners of the Welbourn containers for the not insignificant costs they had incurred in cleaning up the site.

Lee Charles will reappear at Lincoln crown court on June 13, when the court will decide on a proceeds of crime order against him.

In 2015, illegal waste activity was estimated to cost over £600 million in England alone, with the figure for the UK likely to be much higher.