Harold Hill man’s crime incurred wrath of Brazil’s President

Jonathan Coombe was spared jail. Picture: Central News

Jonathan Coombe was spared jail. Picture: Central News - Credit: central news

Four businessmen who sparked a diplomatic row by shipping 15,000 tons of hazardous waste disguised as plastic for recycling to Brazil have been sentenced this week.

Around 15,000 tons of hazardous waste disguised as plastic was shipped to Brazil. Picture Central Ne

Around 15,000 tons of hazardous waste disguised as plastic was shipped to Brazil. Picture Central News - Credit: Central News

The men, including one from Harold Hill, breached strict export rules by sending rubbish, including soiled nappies, catheters and other medical waste.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva complained to the British Government about the

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva complained to the British Government about the illegal shipments - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Former Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva personally complained to the British government about the shipments when the scam was uncovered, the Old Bailey heard.

£1million cost incurred

The loads were then sent back to the UK to be cleaned up by the Environment Agency at a cost of £1million.


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Each container had to be fumigated and painstakingly searched amid fears workers could be pricked with hypodermic needles.

Jonathan Coombe, 42, of North Hill Drive, admitted his part in the illegal trade, along with father and son Julio and Juliano Da Costa, both of Swindon, Wiltshire, and Simon Edwards, 47.

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Edwards’ two Essex-based waste firms also pleaded guilty to breaching regulations.

Da Costa senior, 52, and his son 28, arranged the first shipments through their Swindon-based Worldwide Biorecyclables Ltd firm in September 2008.

They took delivery of household waste from local councils in London and Lincolnshire and were supposed to extract plastic items before sending them on.

But the resulting loads were heavily contaminated. “The most offensive aspect of the contamination of these containers was items that appeared to have come from care homes,” said prosecutor Sailesh Mehta.

“These included soiled nappies, catheters, blood bags and the like.”

The Da Costa’s firm ended up going bust, but they set up another company – UK Multipas Ltd – to carry on exactly the same type of business.

When they ran into difficulties with their suppliers, they turned to Edwards, who sent 43 containers from his yard in Barking, Essex.

Coombe, of North Hill Drive, Harold Hill, also of (The Mount), Debden Road, Loughton, a sales manager for Edwards, helped to arrange the shipments between December 2008 and April 2009.

The four men admitted breaches of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007. The two companies have pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Edwards was handed a £10,000 fine and ordered to pay £10,000 court costs, on Tuesday. His firm was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 costs.

Julio Da Costa was conditionally discharged for two years and his son for 18 months, with both ordered to pay £500 costs.

Coombe, who the judge said had been instrumental in drawing Edwards and his firm into the enterprise, was also conditionally dicharged for two years. He was ordered to pay just £250 costs because he is now jobless.

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