Penzance businessman ordered to pay £54,900 for waste crimes



A Penzance businessman has been ordered to pay £54,900 for crimes he was convicted of 12 years ago after he previously had paid only £100 in recompense.

Michael William Leah, 59, was ordered to pay £49,900 for a confiscation order and £5,000 in costs at Truro Crown Court, in a case brought by the Environment Agency under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The court warned Leah that the sum must be paid within three months or he would be sent to prison for 12 months.

The court heard that Leah was convicted of six offences in August 2011 related to illegally depositing controlled waste at sites near Newbridge, Gweek and in St Ives, for which he received a suspended prison sentence and was made subject to a confiscation order.

Although Leah had made £50,000 through his crimes, at the time of his conviction he was bankrupt and had only £100 to his name and was ordered to pay that in recompense.

This case shows that criminals who think they have got off lightly can think again.

Since then, the Environment Agency said Leah has inherited a property and his case was brought back to court last week following an investigation by the Economic Crime Unit for reconsideration of the confiscation order.

Leah maintained that his home was owned by a trust, but a paper trail showed that he was a trustee of that trust, with access to more than £700,000 in assets, the Environment Agency said. Now running a haulage company, Leah’s three main contracts are worth over £200,000 and he owns vehicles worth a total of nearly £60,000, the regulator said.

Following the hearing, Ashley Davies of the Environment Agency said: “This case shows that criminals who think they have got off lightly can think again. We’ll still come after them if their fortunes change.”

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