Thetford man fined for dumping furniture in forest

A man has admitted dumping a large collection of goods in Thetford Forest in a series of events reminiscent of an Only Fools and Horses episode, a court has heard.

Martin Walsh, of Milton Place, Thetford, pleaded guilty to dumping more than 20 items in Croxton Heath, at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Walsh, 24, had collected the items in Cambridge on behalf of the British Heart Foundation but rather than disposing of them as advised at a tip there, he dumped them at the site of special scientific interest.

The court heard that on August 1 he had fly-tipped a mattress, a fridge, a kitchen table, a sofa, a wooden cabinet, a coffee table, four kitchen chairs, a snooker table, four dining chairs, one easy chair, four black bags containing clothing, a vacuum cleaner, a black office chair and a television cabinet.

Philippa Dyer, prosecuting for Breckland Council, said that a member of the public had seen Walsh’s white Transit van reversing down the narrow track.

The next day the council visited and said it was “instantaneously clear” that a “substantial amount” of fly- tipping had occurred.

Miss Dyer said: “These are not matters the council prosecute on lightly. There is serious thought put into this. These matters are serious and have a significant impact.”

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She added it would have had an impact on wildlife and those wanting to use the site. “This is not just a simple fly-tip on the side of the road,” she said.

Kieran Dunphy, mitigating, said that his client had been a “fool”.

He said: “When I read this I did not believe the words, it sounded like an episode of Only Fools and Horses, but it is actually worse than that.”

He said Walsh had been offered �50 by travellers near the A11 for anything in his van and left the items near others on the site. He added Walsh never received the �50, had not invoiced the charity for that specific collection and had lost his job and good character.

Mr Dunphy said: “He is a fool. He knew what he was doing, it was a deliberate act. He has never done anything like this before and is not a criminal mastermind. He is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.”

Head of the bench Colin Simpson said: “The pictures tell the story here for what any member of the public wandering through Thetford Forest would have seen. It is going to enrage people and has to be seen as a very serious offence.”

Mr Simpson ordered Walsh to pay a total of �915, which included a fine of �400 and �500 for the clean-up costs and investigation. No prosecution costs were awarded.

He said: “It was not a clever act, it was silly. There was a quick buck to be had and now you are going to pay a lot more.”