THE FORMER boss of a Pontypool recycling facility who was said to treat one of his businesses "like a money tree" has been ordered to repay more than £300,000.

Christopher Baylis, 57, previously pleaded guilty to three counts of allowing the operation of a regulated facility, Thorncroft Recycling Waste Ltd (TRWL) in the Polo Grounds Industrial Estate in New Inn, without a permit and two of failing to properly store waste.

At Newport Crown Court yesterday, judge Neil Bidder QC ruled the total benefit figure was £319,136.43 - and ordered for the sum to be repaid in full.

A compensation order was made for Pontypool Park Estates, who were left with the clear up costs, to be awarded the same figure.

Baylis, of Black Barn Farm, Aston Sandford, Buckinghamshire, was previously sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and banned him from having any involvement in the running of a company for the next five years.

The court heard, TRWL was set up to process waste but was "at all times" in breach of permit.

It was set up in February 2014 after another of Baylis' companies - Thorncroft Steel - ran into financial difficulties.

The court heard Baylis has been director of 17 companies, which all except one have been dissolved or are in liquidation. Seven also owed money to their creditors.

In his judgement, judge Bidder QC said: "This is a case where analysis of bank accounts show all sorts of personal expenses of the defendant being paid for out of company bank accounts."

He said one former colleague of Baylis, who resigned from one of the companies, texted Baylis, saying: “You treat Thorncroft as a money tree with no consideration for the staff that work there."

Caerphilly County Borough Council sent waste to the site and paid TRWL.But Judge Bidder said the company never traded lawfully.

He said: "That company was established by the defendant in the knowledge that it would trade in breach of the permit, and I am sure from the evidence with his never intending that it would comply with the regulator’s requirements. "He incorporated and directed TRWL for the purpose of continuing to conduct an unlawful waste disposal business in New Inn and to protect his other companies from the taint of the unlawful business and from having to bear the costs of removing the waste from the site. By so doing he was preserving the benefits he obtained from TSL, Refac Limited and Bayliss Farms Limited and continued the unlawful business that was linked contractually with the other companies he ran."

During the time TRWL traded, the company ignored deadlines to comply with conditions or remove waste, the court heard.

Pontypool Park Estate, the landowners, were required to pay £723,451 to clear 5,223 tonnes of waste at the site, the court heard. The total benefit figure to TRWL was £319,136.43, judge Bidder ruled. Out of this sum, £124,201.92 was income from Caerphilly CBC.

Bayliss was ordered to the benefit figure within three months. He faces a three-year jail term if he defaults on the payment.

Jon Goldsworthy, from Natural Resources Wales said: “The motivation behind the crime was financial and by not having the necessary permissions and infrastructure to protect the environment Mr Baylis undercut legitimate permitted sites.

"Disposing of waste illegally can harm the environment and undermines businesses that invest in the required measures and so it is essential that we take action in such cases to protect people and the environment, as well as safeguarding the market place for legitimate operators.”