June 13, 2013

Hugh O'DonnellA DONEGAL man who was given the longest-ever jail sentence for illegal dumping in Britain has been sentenced to a further three years behind bars for failing to hand over nearly £600,000 worth of illegally-acquired assets.

Hugh O’Donnell, pictured, was jailed in 2011 after police and the Environment Agency raided his illegal dump in Aldermaston, near Reading in Berkshire, which was the size of five football pitches.

When jailed, O’Donnell was ordered to hand over £917,000 under proceeds of crime seizure legislation. Two years on, £578,000 has still to be given up by the 65-year-old, despite exhaustive searches by investigators.

The Environment agency told Donegal Daily: “Hugh O’Donnell, 65, is still in prison serving a four and a half year sentence for waste crimes and money laundering, but was yesterday (30 May) jailed for an additional 1036 days at Westminster Magistrates Court.

“He had failed to pay the full amount of a £917,000 confiscation order – money he was ordered to repay for waste crimes he was convicted of in 2011.”

The Environment Agency and detectives, who investigated O’Donnell and two accomplices for three years, believe he laundered millions of pounds in profits during his operation’s lifetime, which collected skips from builders and home-owners.

The hunt for his assets – on top of the £50,000 in cash and machinery that was seized in the raid – has been “one of the biggest and most complex ever undertaken” by the British authorities, the Environment Agency said in a statement.

“When his huge site and home was raided, a pistol with ammunition was found in a safe, together with £45,000 in cash, documents relating to properties including the villa in Spain and cheque books in the names of aliases. Several thousand pounds were found on Mr O’Donnell,” the agency said.