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Prolific waste criminal put behind bars after failing to pay for his crimes

An unrepentant organised crime boss has been jailed for just under three years after failing to pay back the proceeds of his illegal waste and money laundering business in Aldermaston. Hugh O’Donnell, 65, was ordered to serve the default sentence yesterday (30 May) at Westminster Magistrates’ Court after failing to pay the full amount of a £917,000 confiscation order – money he needed to pay for waste crimes he was convicted of in 2011.

He was due for early release in June this year, but will remain in prison for just under three years for failing to pay back the money he owes. This sentence runs consecutively to his current period of imprisonment.

On completion of this third sentence, Mr O’Donnell will have served the longest time in prison than any other criminal for waste related crimes.

Mr O’Donnell was imprisoned in 2009 for four-and-a-half years for possession of an illegal firearm, which was recovered following an Environment Agency search. He was never released from prison on the due date in May 2011, as Mr O’Donnell was sentenced the following day to four-and-a-half years in prison for money-laundering and 22 months for waste offences, to be served concurrently.

On 3 May 2012, Mr O’Donnell was ordered to pay the sum of £917,000 by 3 November, 2012, but was granted a further 6 months to pay, giving him a maximum 12 months to pay which expired on 3 May, 2013. Mr O’Donnell still owes a total of £578,845.71, including interest, with interest now accruing at a daily rate of £126.12.

Mr O’Donnell stopped co-operating with the Environment Agency in respect of the realisation of his assets to release the monies to satisfy the confiscation order.

Prosecution Team Leader for the South East region of the Environment Agency, Angus Innes, said: “The Environment Agency wants to make sure that serious waste crime doesn’t pay, we don’t just catch criminals – we want to confiscate the assets they’ve gained from crime.

“Mr O’Donnell’s illegal waste business netted millions of pounds in profit by taking skips or lorry loads of construction and demolition waste into the Aldermaston site to be dumped in an illegal landfill.

“This investigation has been one of the biggest and most complex ever undertaken by the Environment Agency and our partner agencies, in particular the London Regional Asset Recovery Team [RART]. By using intelligence and forensic science, we proactively targeted and stopped an organised criminal gang running an illegal waste site that put the public and environment at risk.

“This default sentence sends out a message that failure to pay proceeds of waste crime is dealt with by the courts seriously and you can and will be sent to jail until the monies are paid in full.”

Hugh O’Donnell is the second waste criminal to be sent back to prison this month, after Amrik Johal, 55, was jailed for three years after he was stopped while boarding a flight to Delhi on May 16, 2013 without paying the full amount of a £881,513 confiscation order – money he needed to pay up for waste crimes he was convicted of in 2010.

District Judge Roscoe said: “Although there has been some recovery of assets, 2/3rds is still outstanding and quite frankly, over a year down the line, and you have not even sorted legal aid within the year which doesn’t show that you have been pursuing the matter actively.

She added: “The only realistic way to raise funds and sell assets is by the imposition of the alternative sentence. The only way it is likely to be effective is the alternative sentence of 1,036 days. If you pay the money you won’t serve the alternative. If you don’t pay the court still looks to you for payment and interest accrues on the capital. You have had over a year, despite concrete assets available. The alternative is imposed.”

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