Mum fined over backyard rubbish mountain

'I'M A VICTIM TOO' ... Kelly McBurnie, and the pile of ribbish she allowed to build up in her back yard after her bin was stolen.
'I'M A VICTIM TOO' ... Kelly McBurnie, and the pile of ribbish she allowed to build up in her back yard after her bin was stolen.

A YOUNG mum at the centre of the “worst job” ever faced by South Tyneside refuse collectors insists she is the victim.

Council workers were stunned when they found dozens of bags of rubbish piled high in the back yard of Kelly McBurnie’s home in Alnwick Road, South Shields.

It was a breeding ground for vermin, particularly rats and mice.

And the council’s environmental health team was forced to move in to clear the site after McBurnie failed to dispose of the rubbish at a registered waste site. Yesterday, at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, the 25-year admitted failing to comply with a notice served and was fined £55, with £110 costs, £180 in compensation and ordered to pay a victims surcharge of £15.

Today, a council spokesman pledged any tenant or homeowner found to be endangering the health of their neighbours would also be targeted.

But after the court case, mum-of-one McBurnie, who still lives at the privately-rented property in Alnwick Road, claimed she was the “real victim”.

She said her refuse bin had been stolen and, because she was unemployed, she could not afford the £15 needed to replace it.

McBurnie, who lives with her partner Tony Derbyshire, 27, said: “My bin was nicked and we are expected to buy a new one for £15.

“I haven’t got a job and I just couldn’t afford it. I didn’t want the backyard to become such a mess. My daughter is seven and she couldn’t play out there.

“We did manage to save up £100 and we took it to the council and asked them to clear the yard for us, but they refused.

“Now the council is moving to fortnightly collections to save money.

“I think more people will struggle to get their rubbish in bins because of that. I don’t think the council is helping people like us.”

In court, Angus Taylor, prosecuting on behalf of South Tyneside Council, said the council’s environmental health officer Tim Ogden first visited the property on July 10, last year.

By July 25, McBurnie had still not disposed of the rubbish and she was served a notice.

No further action had been taken by a third visit on August 7 and council refuse officers were ordered in to clear the site.

Mr Ogden said: “The refuse in the rear yard was a potential harbinger for vermin, particularly rats and mice. The officer found evidence that rodents had already ripped apart the bags.

“The refuse collectors who attended the property later called to say that it was the worst job in their history of clearing refuse.”

The action against McBurnie was taken under the 1948 Prevention of Damage by Pests Act.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We welcome the court’s decision to hand down large fines and costs.

“We hope it sends out a clear message that residents have a duty to clear their rubbish and will be prosecuted if they don’t.

“Piles of waste are not only unsightly – they can also attract vermin and pose a serious health hazard.”

n Also fined for not complying with council notices yesterday were Walter Osguthorte and Jean Whalen, next-door neighbours in Marlborough Street North, South Shields.

Whalen was visited by Mr Ogden at her home on three occasions last year, but failed to remove accumulated refuse from her backyard.

The case was found proved and Whalen was fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £110, compensation of £60 and a victim surcharge of £15.

Osguthorte, who admitted failure to comply with a notice, was also visited at his home on three occasions last August and failed to remove debris, including a three-piece suite, from his backyard.

He was fined £73, with £110 costs, £60 compensation and a £15 victims surcharge.