A FARMER made almost £3 million by allowing the illegal dumping of asbestos and other building waste on his land.

Christopher Garrett, from Kingsteignton, has been prosecuted successfully twice by the Environment Agency for polluting his land and is now facing a possible jail sentence and seizure of his assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 

He had been due to face a fact finding hearing at Exeter Crown Court later this month but has withdrawn a basis of plea which was not accepted by the prosecution.

Garrett had disputed the exact timings of offences, how much money he made out the illegal dumping, and whether he was using the waste as a legitimate means to reduce the risk of flooding.

At an earlier hearing, Garrett, 64, of Little Lindridge Cottage, near Kingsteignton, admitted operating a regulated facility without a permit between July 19, 2018 and May 15, 2022.

He also pleaded guilty to treating or disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution by dumping waste containing asbestos between the same dates. 

Judge James Adkin adjourned his sentence until July and has now ordered a probation pre-sentence report. Mr Sam Jones, prosecuting for the Environment Agency (EA), said Garrett had withdrawn his basis of plea and will be sentenced on the full facts, as set out by the prosecution. 

He said an agreement has also been reached on the confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act, with the amount by which Garrett benefitted from crime calculated at £2,888,548.20. Mr Mark Cotter, defending, said the available assets are still being assessed. 

The offences which Garrett has now admitted put him in breach of a suspended sentence of four months, suspended for two years, which was imposed in 2016 after he admitted allowing the disposal of controlled waste without a permit.

In that case he was also ordered to pay £3,221.78 costs to the EA and remove all the waste at his own expense within a year.

The EA were alerted to the pollution because neighbours living close to Little Lindridge, which is between Kingsteignton and Teignmouth, complained about the number of builders’ trucks using the narrow lanes that led to it. 

Environment Agency inspectors issued an official warning in June 2014 but Garrett ignored it and allowed even more waste to be dumped over the next 13 months until he was raided for a second time.

Garrett had created a hard standing at the top of a hill and carried out illegal burning of building materials including plastics.

Other building waste had cascaded down a hill like an avalanche and engulfed trees in a copse at the bottom.

A path had been built down the hill which was found to include potentially lethal broken asbestos tiles.

Recorder Mr Paul Dunkels, KC, sentencing in the earlier case, told Garrett: ‘This was a deliberate course of conduct. The case is significant. It goes without saying that if there was a further offence of unlawful dumping there would be immediate imprisonment. It must stop.’