A FARMER who allowed the illegal dumping of asbestos waste on his land is to face a four day fact-finding hearing next year.

Christopher Garrett has pleaded guilty to two environmental offences relating to his land near Newton Abbot but on a basis that is not accepted by the prosecution at Exeter Crown Court.

A Judge has scheduled a four day trial in front of a Judge sitting alone for May 13 next year and warned Garrett that he faces jail if its findings go against him.

There are disputes about the exact timings of the offences, how much money he made out of allowing the illegal waste disposal and whether he was using the waste to prevent flooding on the land.

The case has been adjourned until next year because both the Environment Agency, which is prosecuting, and the defendant need time to commission expert reports.

The prosecution also need to conclude a financial investigation which is being conducted under the Proceeds of Crime Act while the defence are seeking expert evidence from accountants.

At an earlier hearing, Garrett, aged 63, 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.

Recorder Mr Richard Stead set down a timetable for the exchange of expert evidence, leading up to the hearing in May next year, and told Garrett that he is likely to face a jail sentence because he has a previous conviction for an almost identical offence.

He told him that the 25 per cent credit which he will receive for pleading guilty may be halved if he loses the fact finding procedure, which is known as a Newton Hearing.

He said: 'f the case is proved, and given his previous record, he faces a sentence of imprisonment.'

Garrett was jailed for four months, suspended for two years, after he admitted allowing the disposal of controlled waste without a permit in 2016.

He also ordered him to pay £3,221.78 costs to the Environment Agency (EA) and remove all the waste at his own expense within a year.

That case arose because neighbours living close to his farm, 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 out of buried waste at the top of a hill and carried out illegal burning of building materials including plastics on it.

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.'