'Eyesore' mattress recycler Lewis Bertram sentenced

Mattresses Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption The court heard the pile reached up to 16ft (5m) high

A businessman who left discarded mattresses in a 16ft pile in a Kent village has been given a suspended jail term.

Lewis Bertram, who ran recycling firm Eco-Matters in Smarden, was convicted of breaching environmental laws at Canterbury Crown Court.

The 51-year-old was given a six-month term, suspended for two years, and 300 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Heather Norton said he left "an eyesore and a fire hazard".

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Sentencing, she said Bertram, of Well Street, Loose, near Maidstone, had shown a "flagrant disregard for the law".

She said: "You continued to take in mattresses because it was paying you money.

"You were hoping to fob off the Environment Agency with promise after promise after promise that you never delivered."

Image caption The judge said Bertram showed a "flagrant disregard for the law"

The court heard Bertram ran his business at two units in the village, near several homes, from July 2013.

Legal action was taken against him as the recycling site became stacked with mattresses, divan bed bases and bed parts.

'Family problems'

Prosecutor Rebecca Vanstone said there were large costs involved in clearing the site and Bertram owed about £30,000 in rent and rates.

"The Environment Agency says he intentionally breached the law given the number of visits to the site by officers, the number of warnings to Mr Bertram, the fact that Mr Bertram knew and accepted the terms and limits, and that he allowed the waste to be deposited," she said.

Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption The mattresses piled up at the site in Smarden
Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption Bertram took in mattresses, divan bed bases and bed parts

Defending, Darren Snow said there was no evidence of pollution or physical damage to the site and the problems coincided with "significant" family problems.

He said Bertram, who earned about £26,000 a year, accepted he "took his eye off the ball" and had started repaying rent.

He was convicted of two counts of unlawfully depositing controlled waste and one count of failing to remove waste.

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