A company director who "turned a blind eye" as toxic silt was dumped in the sea, off Falmouth, has had his "swingeing" financial penalty slashed by top judges.
Peter James Frampton, 56, was originally fined £25,000 – and ordered to pay £44,150 in legal costs – after he was convicted of "depositing materials in UK waters without a licence". He was found guilty at Truro Crown Court in February.
Frampton, of Wimborne, Dorset, was the boss of a company which won the tender to demolish the Kings Wharf section of Falmouth Harbour – and to clear a build-up of silt – as part of the construction of a luxury £8.8 million yachting marina.
Lady Justice Hallett said Frampton had no inkling his company needed a special licence when he won the tender, but that he allowed potentially toxic silt to be dredged from the sea-bed once the project got under way.
By this time he was aware that he needed an environmental permit for the operation but did nothing to secure one, London's Appeal Court heard. "He turned a blind eye for one month as highly contaminated material was deposited," said the judge.
An environmental official had watched, and shot video film, as the polluted sediment was dredged up from the sea-bed, only to be dumped 50 metres away creating a "plume of discoloured water".
Frampton's case reached the Appeal Court yesterday as he challenged both his conviction and the financial penalty imposed in the crown court.
Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Judge Peter Jacobs and Mr Justice Simon, rejected Frampton's application to appeal conviction, dismissing criticisms of the trial judge's summing-up.
She also dismissed his appeal against the £25,000 fine, concluding that it was "not arguably excessive".
Frampton's lawyers had urged the court to consider his previous impeccable character, and the fact that he became involved in the project while acting in good faith. They criticised the total financial penalty as "swingeing" and excessive.
His company has now gone into administration, the court heard, and his source of income was therefore gone.
Lady Justice Hallett said she accepted that "no long-term harm" was done as a result of the dumping, but said such behaviour needed to be "deterred".
However, the Appeal Court went on to reduce the costs order from £44,150 to £25,000, which it said was a more "proportionate" amount.