Man who burned mattresses in residential Newcastle has been given a suspended prison sentence


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A man burning a mattress whose acrid black smoke from an illegal bonfire could be seen for miles has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Michael McLanaghan, 44, of Swinley Gardens in Newcastle, has pleaded guilty to disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm human health after being caught by an enforcement officer the law on leave, walking around.

On Tuesday April 20 at around 3.35 p.m., an environmental protection officer from Newcastle City Council was walking through Denton when he saw a plume of black smoke.

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He walked towards the residential area of ​​Swinley Gardens where he could see black smoke rising from behind one of the houses.

The fire had flames as high as the windows on the first floor of the semi-detached house, and filled the air with the smell of smoke and burnt synthetic materials.

Not feeling safe as McLanaghan or the blaze approached, which would have required protective gear to approach, the officer withdrew and called the police, who dispatched a team of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to extinguish the fire.

It is generally known that the darker the smoke, the more polluting the fire tends to be.

Roy Harris, Director of Environmental Protection for Newcastle City Council, said: “As a council we really want everyone to be a good neighbor and to that end we discourage the burning of all rubbish.

“In most cases, it’s not only illegal, but it can be exceptionally dangerous, with toxic gases like hydrogen, cyanide and other toxic pollutants being released.

“To do it in the middle of a residential neighborhood, near a school, knowing how damaging it could be to others in the community, is frankly shocking, and I’m glad the courts took such a bad opinion on this crime. “

After being cautiously questioned by council enforcement officers, McLanaghan admitted to burning four or five mattresses, said the smoke was black and smelled bad, agreed there was no control on the emissions and that the smoke had spread over other houses.

When asked if he understood the dangers of black smoke, he replied that it “clearly causes health risks”.

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McLanaghan consented to an inspection of his back yard, whose fences were badly damaged by the fire, and officers found a large pile of burnt mattress springs, some with plastic residue, pieces of metal and wood charred and, at the other end of the garden, a pile of seven more unburned mattresses.

McLanaghan pleaded guilty in Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on July 27, but given the potential damage from burning mattresses, proximity to a school and a previous conviction for a similar offense in 2017, magistrates ruled that their powers were insufficient and dismissed the case. in Crown court for sentencing.

On August 24, McLanaghan appeared in Newcastle Magistrates’ Court where recorder Margia Mostafa sentenced him to three months in prison, suspended for twelve months, and ordered him to perform 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £ 300 in costs.

In most cases, burning garbage is illegal. It is a criminal offense to burn household garbage which will cause pollution or possible damage to health, any waste arising from commercial activity, any waste resulting from construction or demolition work, or any waste which will generate black or black smoke.

If Newcastle residents need to get rid of litter, Brunswick, Byker and Walbottle City Council recycling centers are open normally, garbage collection is continuing as scheduled, you can register for garden waste collection at www.newcastle.gov.uk / gardenwaste, where the local authority can offer advice and discounted materials to help you compost at home.

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