Two brothers who set up a business collecting bins of rubbish and caused a plague of rats when they piled it in their back garden, costing a council nearly £59,000 to clear, received suspended prison sentences Tuesday, January 8.

Judge Rhys Rowlands, sitting at Mold Crown Court, said that custody was justified but he decided that ten month prison sentences would be suspended for two years, with 200 hours unpaid work.

Raymond Murray, 60 and Ian Murray, 53, of Gwellyn Avenue in Kinmel Bay, North Wales, had admitted operating a waste business without an environmental permit when they appeared at the magistrates’ court in November.

Mold Crown Court heard how 123 tonnes of mixed waste had to be removed from the two acre garden which had caused an explosion in the local rat population.

It cost Conwy County Council £59,000 to clear up the site and it was estimated that between 400 and 500 rats had been killed.

A large scale rat baiting operation was launched because officers fears that when the waste was removed the rats would scatter.

Complaints were received from neighbouring properties including a caravan holiday park which had been seriously affected by rats.

Refunds had to be given to those whose holidays were ruined and bookings had been seriously affected.

Prosecuting for Natural Resources Wales, barrister Christopher Stables said : “The defendants set up a completely unregistered waste transfer station within the grounds of their own dwelling, in a residential area.”

No environment permit had been applied for and it was extremely unlikely that one would have been granted.

The judge adjourned the financial aspects of the case and said it was hoped that the ratepayers would not have to pick up the clear-up bill.

A financial hearing under The Proceeds of Crime Act will be held in May.

Officials visited their home at the beginning of May and found hundreds of bin bags throughout the garden, with a variety of domestic waste including mattresses, furniture and sections from cars, a caravan, and other items.

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

Conwy Council received complaints from neighbours about rats and served a notice for the mess to be cleared within 21 days but that did not happen. The council employed contractors and used 160 bait traps – equivalent to a month’s normal use in the entire county.

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.

Sarah Yates, defending, said that the brothers had no previous convictions.

They began a waste collecting business when they lost a previous taxi business and ran into financial difficulties.

The business was properly run to start with but it was not economic to take the waste to a licensed site, they began sorting waste at home and matters got out of hand.

They wished to apologise to people in their local community, she said.

Judge Rowlands told them: “You were operating a regulated waste facility at your home without a permit.”

The judge said that the regulations were there for good reason - to safeguard the environment and human health.

“You acted outside the law. You did so to save yourself a great deal of money and created a truly appalling mess in a residential area.

“You caused considerable adverse affects to other residents and to the operators of a nearby caravan park.”

The judge said that people seeking to make money by cutting corners and ignoring the necessary safeguards were sadly all too common.

What was unusual in their case was that it was the location is a residential area and the rat infestation which was caused which caused “a real risk to human health.”