Businessman jailed for nine weeks for illegal dumping in Donegal

Jim Ferry appeared for the 14th time before Justice Barrett over Rossbracken dumping

Donegal businessman Jim Ferry  has been jailed for nine weeks by the High Court. File image: Collins Courts

Donegal businessman Jim Ferry has been jailed for nine weeks by the High Court. File image: Collins Courts

 

The businessman behind a major illegal dumping operation in Co Donegal has been jailed for nine weeks by the High Court.

Jim Ferry was imprisoned for contempt after what is understood to have been the 14th time the matter of his illegal dumping at Rossbracken, east of Letterkenny on the Wild Atlantic Way, had been before Mr Justice Max Barrett.

After sentencing Ferry to nine weeks, the Donegal man was given time to talk to family members who accompanied him to court before being led away by gardaí.

Ferry’s contempt was his failure to adhere to orders, granted to Donegal County Council by Mr Justice Barrett at previous sittings of the court. These directed Ferry to explain what had become of the money, estimated by the council to run into millions of euros, that he was paid by householders to dispose of their waste.

Instead of disposing it legally, Ferry buried the waste illegally on his land at Rossbracken.

Gerard Murray, a forensic accountant employed by the council, estimated that in one year alone, Ferry’s double entry book-keeping suggested cash skimming in the order of €300,000. Ferry has denied this, claiming that discrepancies in the quantities of waste collected, and the money paid to him, related to incorrect recording of refuse weight.

In court on Wednesday, Ferry asked, by affidavit, for more time to comply with the order, claiming that for him to hire his own accountant, to verify Mr Murray’s work, would cost up to €30,000 and he was struggling to find that money.

He asked the court to direct the Garda Síochána to release money it had seized in raids on properties connected to him in Letterkenny.

The request was opposed by the council which noted that Ferry offered no refutation of Mr Murray’s findings.

Ferry has multiple convictions for illegal dumping and the Rossbracken instance is one of the largest known, prompting determined action by the council since November 2016. At that time, council inspectors found up to 36,000 tons of illegal waste on the site, which they estimated would cost €4.5 million of public funds to clear up.

Ferry initially denied any wrongdoing and waged a campaign against the council in social media before finally admitting his guilt.

Prior to the recent local Government elections, Ferry had declared he would stand for election to the council as an independent. However, this was prevented when the council invoked legal provisions stopping a council debtor seeking election.