A waste carrier who claimed not to collect metal, despite visiting a scrap yard 64 times in just three months to cash it in, has appeared before magistrates.

Callum Conley, of Park Avenue, Coxhoe, was caught collecting scrap metal on two occasions without the correct licence last year.

On the first occasion, on 28 August 2019, the 23-year-old was driving a flatbed vehicle in the Medomsley area of Consett when he was stopped as part of a multi-agency operation. A Durham County Council neighbourhood warden pointed out some scrap metal on the back of his vehicle, prompting Conley to present what he claimed was a scrap metal licence. However, further checks by the council’s licencing team confirmed Conley did not hold such a licence.

In interview, Conley said he was collecting waste, not scrap metal, and although he sometimes finds metal within the waste he collects, this is not the primary focus of his business. He said he weighed in any scrap metal he did collect at a local scrap yard each month.

Conley said he had a waste carrier’s licence but claimed his application for a scrap metal licence had been refused by the council. Checks later confirmed he had withdrawn the application himself.

Later that year, on 8 October, Conley was stopped driving the same vehicle around the Broompark Estate in Ushaw Moor. Once again there was scrap metal in the back of the vehicle and when the neighbourhood warden asked Conley if he had a scrap metal licence, he said he only needed an Environment Agency licence.

Conley was invited to a second interview but did not attend, prompting the licencing team to send written questions to him. In his response, Conley once again confirmed he had a waste carrier’s licence and said he did not collect scrap metal.

A licencing enforcement officer contacted the local scrap yard, which confirmed Conley had weighed in metal on 64 occasions between 28 August and 22 November 2019 and had received a considerable amount in payment.

Conley pleaded guilty to two charges of operating a business without a scrap metal licence at Peterlee Magistrates Court.

In mitigation, Conley’s solicitor highlighted how he had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and believed his activities were covered by his waste carrier’s licence.

Magistrates imposed a £120 fine and ordered him to pay costs of £333.50 and a £32 victim surcharge.

Owen Cleugh, Durham County Council’s consumer protection manager, said: “If you buy, sell or collect scrap metal in County Durham, it is a legal requirement that you have a licence. These rules are in place for very good reason – to protect against scrap metal theft – so it is important that anyone trading in scrap metal abides by them.

“This prosecution demonstrates that we will take action when people flout these rules and those trading in scrap metal without a licence should expect to face the consequences.”