A VAN used by a flytipper to dump old furniture is to be crushed and recycled.

Magistrates in Newton Aycliffe approved Durham County Council’s application to destroy Thomas Adey’s vehicle after the 37-year-old pleaded guilty to depositing controlled waste.

It is the first time the council has applied to a court to crush a vehicle connected with flytipping, and it is hoped it will serve as a strong warning to would-be flytippers.

Adey, of Coniston Avenue, Easington Lane, near Houghton-le-Spring, initially denied the offence but changed his plea to guilty on the day of his trial.

The court heard an off-duty police officer had witnessed a white Ford Transit being driven onto the lane beside Croxdale Fast Fit Centre on the A167 near Chester-le-Street at 4.50am on Saturday, January, 27.

The van was loaded with old furniture and waste, prompting the police officer to approach the track to see what was going on.

He heard a series of “crash and bangs” and then saw the same vehicle drive back out onto the A167 without the rubbish.

The police officer took down the vehicle’s registration number, and the van was traced back to Adey, who was subsequently summoned to an interview with the council’s neighbourhood wardens.

He failed to attend, but on March 7 a council warden discovered Adey’s vehicle unattended and unlocked in a petrol station forecourt in Stanley and it was a seized.

Adey attended an interview at Chester-le-Street Police Station the week after and denied responsibility for the flytipping.

In mitigation, the court was told Adey’s late guilty plea was owing to the fact that the full details of the case against him were not clear until the day of his trial.

As well as the forfeiture and destruction of his vehicle, Adey was sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work and must pay £350 costs.

Ian Hoult, from Durham County Council, said: “Although we have seized vehicles connected with flytipping before, this is the first time we have applied to crush one. By taking this action we are not only preventing this van from being used for flytipping again, but we are taking an old and unsafe vehicle off the road and sending out a clear message that the illegal disposal of waste will not be tolerated.”