Illegal truck sales business uncovered at family farm

Commercial Motor
September 27, 2018

A landowner and his son have been ordered to pay more than £233,000 after an illegal truck sales business was uncovered in Leicestershire.

Leicester Crown Court heard that Ben Evans ran an HGV sales business on his father’s land, Roecliffe Farm, in New Packington, despite having no planning permission and having received an official warning to stop. The illegal operation on Ian Evans’ land was discovered in August last year when one of the trucks at the site was involved in a near-miss incident in the road outside the farm.

Planning permission to change the use of the farm to allow the business to operate there had been refused in January 2005, partly because of concerns over road safety. Both men later admitted breaching planning regulations despite an official warning by North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) to stop trading on the farm.

The judge in the case, David Herbert QC, said both Ian and Ben Evans had deliberately misled council officers and had knowingly breached the enforcement notice to make a significant profit. He told the court that “people must understand that these kind of orders must be complied with”.

Ben, of Lavender Walk, Coleorton, and his firm, Ben Evans Commercials, were ordered to pay £188,760, with Evans paying £19,760 and £169,000 from the business. His father was ordered to pay £9,335 due to his smaller involvement in the breach.

The financial orders were made under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), which enables courts to strip offenders of cash or assets paid for through crime. The defendants must pay the fines by the end of November this year and failure to do so could result in prison sentences of up to seven months.

Payments will be split between NWLDC - which brought the prosecution - the courts and the state. The pair were fined under the Town and Country Planning Act and ordered to pay court costs of more than £34,000, bringing the total to more than £233,000.

Following the case, councillor Alison Smith, deputy leader and portfolio holder for community services at NWLDC, said: “We take breaches of planning regulations very seriously and were pleased to secure a guilty plea due to the strength of our evidence and the case.

“The POCA is there to allow authorities to confiscate money and assets that have been gained through criminal activity - we can now use this money to fund our investigations into other planning breaches.”

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