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Waste criminal given 18-month custodial sentence

25 January 2024

A MAN from Faversham was finally caught and arrested after absconding when he was found guilty of running an illegal waste operation in 2019.

James Mete, 61, appeared at Maidstone crown court for his sentencing and has been given an 18-month custodial sentence.

In 2019, the Environment Agency prosecuted Mete along with his daughters, Lucy and Billie Mete. James Mete then absconded before sentencing.

The law finally caught up with Mete and he was arrested following the warrant issued by Maidstone crown court for failing to answer his bail.

Mete will now serve a 14-month prison sentence for allowing waste to be deposited and treated at his site, Thirwell Farm, along with a further four months for breaching the terms of his bail.

Matt Higginson, environment manager for the Environment Agency in Kent said, "We thank the police for finding and arresting Mete, so he finally faces the consequences of his crime.

"This was a deliberate breach of the law, and we are pleased that all three Metes have now all received custodial sentences for the events at Thirwell Farm.

"James Mete and his daughters all knew their actions amounted to a criminal offence, but still allowed waste to be dumped, kept and treated at Thirwell Farm for a number of years with no permit from the Environment Agency.

"I am pleased to see courts taking waste crime seriously. Mete is the third man to be given a prison sentence for waste crime in just a few weeks."

Legitimate waste operators and the public are encouraged to report any suspicious waste operations on 0800 807060.

In 2019, the Environment Agency prosecuted James Mete after obtaining evidence that he allowed multiple lorry-loads of soil and builders’ waste, approximately 40,000 tonnes, which equates to 3,200 double decker buses, was dumped and treated on Mete’s land at Thirwell Farm in Drove Lane, Hernhill, between 2014 and 2016. The work needed an environmental permit, which it didn’t have.

Following a number of tip-offs in 2015, the Environment Agency and Kent Police raided Thirwell Farm and found 10-foot piles of waste soils and rubble, as well as machinery for processing it. During this visit, environment officers turned back a lorry that has arrived to tip more waste.

At the time, both the lorry driver and the owner of a building supplies firm gave statements to the Environment Agency saying James Mete was their main contact at Thirwell Farm, despite him saying in interview he didn’t encourage firms to drop waste there.

Following a six-day trial at Maidstone crown court in March 2019, a jury found James Mete, Lucy Mete and Billy Mete guilty of breaking environmental law. All three offenders have now been sentenced.


During the trial in March 2019, the court heard from an expert witness that the volume of materials on the site had increased by over 40,000 cubic metres between January 2011 and September 2015.

In January 2020, Lucy Mete was given a 26-week custodial sentence for 1 count of breaching Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) 2010 regulation 12 and 38(1)b EPR 2010. For failing to appear at court for sentencing, she received four weeks custodial sentence, both to be served consecutively for a total of 30 weeks.

On 10 July 2019, Lucy’s sister, Billie Mete, was sentenced to six weeks in prison, suspended for two years. She was also given 28 days in jail for breaching the terms of her bail by not attending court for sentence in March but walked free from court having already served more than half this amount.

James Mete, born July 1962, of Thirwell Farm in Drove Lane, Hernhill, Kent

James Mete, Lucy Mete and Billie Mete were each convicted of one count of regulation 38 (1) (b) contravening Regulation 12 (1) (a) of the EPR (England and Wales) 2010.