Rich businessman is caught running £2.6m illegal waste racket with his farmer friend as they buried toxic rubbish underground next to Grade II-listed mansion

  • Howard Rees, 65, and his accomplice, Huw Leyshon, 53, concealed the waste
  • They tried to hide activity using large excavators and flattening land, court heard
  • The pair plotted to dump materials including biohazardous waste from hospitals
  • They were handed suspended sentences and ordered to pay back over £175,000

A wealthy businessman was caught running a £2.6million illegal waste racket where he buried toxic rubbish underground next to his Grade II-listed mansion.

Homeowner Howard Rees, 65, and 53-year-old accomplice Huw Leyshon concealed the waste alongside the building designed by the architect of Buckingham Palace.

A court heard the pair tried to hide their secret dumping activity on the 69-acre land in South Wales by using large excavators and then flattening the ground on top.

They plotted to dump materials including biohazardous waste such as used syringes and clinical tools from hospitals.

Rees pocketed £1.4million in the scam before putting his countryside mansion up for sale for £750,000 and selling it earlier this year.

Mansion owner Howard Rees (pictured above), 65, and 53-year-old accomplice Huw Leyshon concealed the waste alongside the building designed by the architect of Buckingham Palace

A court heard the pair tried to hide their secret dumping activity on the land next to Rheola House (pictured) in South Wales using large excavators and then flattening the ground on top

Investigators were tipped off that lorries were using the former Old Rheola Works site in Resolven to hide rubbish (pictured) and started a surveillance operation

Rheola House at Resolven, near Neath, was designed by Buckingham Palace architect John Nash.

The building is next to a former aluminium works where the rubbish was dumped underground in giant holes before being covered over. 

Investigators were tipped off that lorries were using the former Old Rheola Works site in Resolven to hide rubbish and started a surveillance operation.

They witnessed workers digging trenches to hide rotting household waste, shredded plastics, oil-covered car parts and scrapyard waste.

Rees was arrested with police seizing documents and a mobile phone during a search of his home.

Swansea Crown Court heard officers were then led to Leyshon’s family farm in nearby Skewen where ‘hundreds’ of lorries were found arriving from scrap yards in Birmingham. 

Cattle farmer Huw Leyshon (pictured above) made £1.2million in the scheme. Swansea Crown Court heard officers were led to his family farm in nearby Skewen where ‘hundreds’ of lorries were found arriving from scrap yards in Birmingham

The pair plotted to dump materials including biohazardous waste such as used syringes and clinical tools from hospitals (pictured: the toxic rubbish that was buried underground)

Cattle farmer Leyshon made £1.2million in the scheme. 

A third defendant, Dennis Connor, is set to be sentenced later this week after clinical waste from hospitals, including syringes and infectious waste bags, were found on his land.

Rees and Leyshon were each handed 16-month suspended sentences and ordered to pay back more than £175,000 between them.

Rees was ordered to repay £66,841 within three months and Leyshon £108,313.

Rees pocketed £1.4million in the scam before putting his countryside mansion (above) up for sale for £750,000 and selling it earlier this year

The building is next to a former aluminium works where the rubbish was dumped underground in giant holes before being covered over

Martyn Evans, south-west area manager for Natural Resources Wales (NRW), said: ‘We hope the outcome of this case will send out a positive message to those who seek to profit by breaking the law, that Natural Resources Wales will not tolerate harming local communities or damaging the environment.

‘The impact of these activities went beyond the boundaries of the defendants’ land and affected the wider area.

‘Disposing of waste illegally undermines businesses that invest in the required measures and so it is essential that we take action in such cases to protect people and the environment, as well as safeguarding the marketplace for legitimate operators.’

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