Telford man gets court bill for fly-tipping children's clothes - despite being abroad at the time
A Wellington man has been ordered to pay more than £500 after school clothes dumped on a footpath were traced to him - despite his claims he was abroad at the time.
Factory worker Mukhtar Ahmed Musah admitted a single offence of failing to ensure household waste was transferred properly, at Telford Magistrates Court on Monday.
Prosecuting for Telford & Wrekin Council, Miss Ashleigh Pennill said a council neighbourhood enforcement officer found a bag full of clothes dumped on a public footpath in Regent Street, Wellington, on September 15 last year.
Upon investigating, the officer found parts of a school uniform, signed by students and teachers with messages of good luck for the future.
Officers contacted the school to make enquiries about the name on the clothes, and were led to an address in Regent Street. The resident was Musah.
The council issued a penalty notice on September 20, then a reminder letter on October 17.
On October 20, Musah made a £50 payment towards the £400 penalty.
"On October 24 the defendant contacted the council and suggested he didn't know why he had to pay the £400," said Miss Pennill.
"The council responded by email explaining the sum and offered the defendant the early payment option again - of £200 - due to the confusion and as a gesture of goodwill."
Musah did not respond and the council began legal action against him.
Miss Pennill told the court the cost of investigating the fly-tip had been £147.21, and bringing the case to court had cost £1,045.
Speaking to the magistrates in court in Spanish, with his words being translated by an interpreter who was appearing over a video link, Musah apologised but said the clothes had been dumped without his knowledge.
"I'm very sorry. I have not got the money to pay this fine at the moment. It's going to be a big problem for me."
Chair of the bench Mr William Drury asked him: "Was there a reason for putting these clothes in the street?"
Musah said, through the interpreter: "I didn't know anything about it. I was in Spain or Ghana when this happened.
"I didn't know they had been thrown on the street.
"I think it was the children or some child that maybe put the clothes on the street."
Mr Drury told Musah: "Because you were not in the country when this happened, that reduces your culpability.
"However, the offence still happened - and if it was another family member, you will still have that responsibility."
The magistrates decided to impose a conditional discharge to last 12 months, and ordered Musah to pay £550 towards the prosecution costs.
He must also pay a victim surcharge.