'Brazen' fly-tippers caught on camera dumping deadly asbestos at Leeds beauty spot

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This was the moment three brazen fly-tippers were caught red-handed on camera as they dumped over a tonne of asbestos at a Leeds beauty spot.

The crooks were arrested when an off-duty West Yorkshire Police officer spotted them unloading sheets of the lethal material in woods at Bramham.

Deadly cargo: More than a tonne of asbestos was being dumped in woods in Bramham.

Deadly cargo: More than a tonne of asbestos was being dumped in woods in Bramham.

The quick-thinking cop filmed Danut Dobre, Nicolae Dobre and Ionel Marin as they disposed of a transit van full of the illegal waste..

One of the defendants claimed the vehicle had broken down and pretend to inspect wires under the bonnet as the officer challenged them.

The officer continued to film on his mobile phone as he went to the rear of the van where two others were unloading the potentially deadly cargo.

Leeds Crown Court heard the officer ordered the men to put the material back on to the van.

Red handed: Off-duty police officer challenged the men as they dumped asbestos

Red handed: Off-duty police officer challenged the men as they dumped asbestos

It was later safely disposed of by Leeds City Council at a cost to the taxpayer of £2,700.

The three men were arrested over the incident on August 1 last year and pleaded guilty to an offence of depositing controlled waste.

Michael Walsh, prosecuting, said the asbestos had the potential to harm human health as well as endanger local animals and flora.

He said: "This was a flagrant disregard for the law."

Scam: One of the men pretended van had broken down as they illegally dumped asbestos.

Scam: One of the men pretended van had broken down as they illegally dumped asbestos.

The court heard the three men are Romanian nationals who had arrived in the UK shortly before the offence was committed.

A probation officer told the court they had become involved in the deposing of scrap and were getting paid cash-in-hand.

All three were given six-month jail terms, suspended for two years, ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and told to pay compensation to Leeds City Council

Marin, 23, of Conway Grove, Harehills, was ordered to pay £1,250.

Danut Dobre, 34, of Strathmore View, Harehills, was ordered to pay £1,000.

Nicolae Dobre, 41, of Strathmore View, Harehills, was ordered to pay £400.

Judge Andrew Stubbs, QC, said: "You were caught red-handed by a police constable.

"I have little difficulty in concluding that the three of you were seeking to make dishonest money in any way you could.

"You intentionally and flagrantly disregarded the law.

"As far as blame is concerned, you were about as blameworthy as it gets"

Stephen Welford, for Nicolae Dobra, said his client had arrived in the country "some months" before the offence.

He said there were other people behind the offence who had taken advantage of him.

Mr Welford said the defendant now earned around £15 a day selling the Big Issue.

Ben Campbell, for Danut Dobre, said the father-of-three had no previous convictions and now earned £800 a month to support his family.

Mr Campbell said the defendant's children would suffer if he was sent to prison.

Elyas Patel, for Marin, said his client arrived in the UK weeks before the incident, spoke little English and was desperate for money.

He added that the men were given the job to do without any safety equipment.

Mr Patel said Marin now had a job valeting cars.

Asbestos has the potential to cause fatal lung diseases if its microscopic fibres are inhaled.

Before its dangers were known, asbestos was often used in buildings for insulation, flooring and roofing and sprayed on ceilings and walls.

It is now banned in the UK.

After the case, Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for environments and active lifestyles, said: “This was an absolutely appalling and brazen criminal act which saw a deadly substance dumped by the roadside in flagrant disregard for public safety.

"Thanks to our ongoing partnership work with West Yorkshire Police to tackle waste crime and the blight of fly-tipping in our communities, we were able to bring the culprits before the courts.

“We have a zero tolerance policy on waste crime and fly-tipping in Leeds and I hope today’s sentencing sends a powerful message to those who flout the law that there is no excuse- illegally dumping waste is a crime and you will be caught and prosecuted.”