TWO brothers set up a business collecting bins rubbish, piling it in their back garden, costing nearly £59,000 to clear – and causing a plague of rats.

Yesterday (Tuesday) the pair appeared in court at Llandudno, pleaded guilty to acting without an environment permit in July and were given unconditional bail to appear at Caernarfon crown court for sentencing.

Prosecuting for Natural Resources Wales, solicitor Dafydd Roberts, said: “Both defendants were basically running an illegal waste facility at their home address.”

He added that Ian Murray, 53, and brother Raymond, 43, face a proceeds of crime hearing into the unlawful business they ran from 32 Gwellyn Avenue, Kinmel Bay in Conwy county.

Mr Roberts said that when an official visited their home at the beginning of May he found hundreds of bin bags throughout the garden, with a variety of domestic waste including mattresses, furniture and sections from cars.

“There was clear evidence of a huge rat infestation with bags of domestic rubbish having been ripped open, and rat burrows,” Mr Roberts told magistrates.

Conwy received complaints from neighbours about rats and served a notice for the mess to be cleared within 21 days but this didn’t happen. Contractors were engaged and 160 bait traps were used – equivalent to a month’s normal use in the entire county. Estimates were that between 400 and 500 rats were killed. More than 123 tons of waste were cleared at a cost, including taking to landfill, of just under £59,000.

When holidaymakers arrived at an adjoining caravan park they found dead rats in awnings and rats running around a children’s play area which had to be closed and disinfected. Some customers were refunded their fees.

Mr Roberts said an industrial unit was being run in a garden. “We say this was for financial gain,” he added.

Craig Hutchinson, defending, contended that the brothers’ culpability was reckless rather than a deliberate act. They had been taxi drivers for 20 years until losing their licences in 2016.

For 12 months they incurred increasing debt and it was then decided to collect rubbish, charging £50 a load. They would then pay £36 to a private contractor to whom they would take it. “But things got out of hand,” he declared.

Court chairwoman Grainne McDonagh announced: “We think we do not have sufficient powers to sentence, and therefore this will be sent to Caernarfon crown court.”

Conwy county on September 24 became the first in Britain to introduce bins collection every four weeks.

Previously there were three-weekly collections, although in some areas a pilot monthly scheme was operating.