Asbestos conman ordered to pay back £82,100

A conman who toured England – including Lynn – to deceive customers over the disposal of harmful asbestos has been ordered to pay back £82,100

Lee Charles, of Caldicot Gardens, Grantham, pleaded guity in 2022 to lying to customers and giving false paperwork to hide his deception. He was given a suspended prison sentence.

The defendant was back at Lincoln Crown Court on May 22 in a case brought by the Environment Agency under the Proceeds of Crime Act, following a financial investigation into the lawful costs he avoided from his crimes.

Lee Charles appeared at Lincoln Crown Court on May 22 where he was ordered to pay back £82,100.
Lee Charles appeared at Lincoln Crown Court on May 22 where he was ordered to pay back £82,100.

Charles marketed himself as Lincs Demolition Ltd for two years, claiming he was registered to remove asbestos to gain lucrative jobs. He had no legal permit to carry out the work.

Charles, 40, carried out his dishonest work in more than 40 locations including Lynn, Cambridge, Norwich and Spalding

Asbestos is a hazardous substance when disturbed and carcinogenic. The UK banned its use in 1999.

Having duped his customers, Charles stashed the waste asbestos in hired storage containers at Welbourn, near Grantham, 200m from a school and close to a Girl Guide centre

Charles told the owners of the storage space he wanted to keep tools there. When he failed to pay the rent on the containers, the owners forced the locks and were confronted with the dangerous contents.

Once exposed, Charles abandoned the storage containers at Welbourn, moving his activities to an unpermitted waste site 16 miles away near Sleaford, where he continued to store asbestos unsafely, posing a risk to public health.

Charles previously pleaded guilty to two counts of operating a waste operation without a permit between 2017 and 2019. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of keeping or disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm.

Paul Salter, an environmental waste crime officer for the Environment Agency, said: “Lee Charles’ crimes were not just illegal, but dangerous. He has been ordered to pay back, and this sends out a clear message to others who flout the law that waste crime does not pay.

“Not only do we use environmental law to prosecute those who abuse the environment, but we also use the Proceeds of Crime legislation to ensure that criminals are deprived of the benefits of their illegal activity.”

If anyone sees or suspects waste crime being committed, they should reported it to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.