By Chris Jaffray
Bungling council bosses threatened a property boss with criminal prosecution over fly tipping – after thieves nicked a bath but dumped it five houses down when it was too heavy to carry.
Newcastle City Council claimed Daniel Gibson had abandoned the bath, which would have cost just £20 to dipose of, from the back garden of a £300,000 house undergoing a £2,000 bathroom refurbishment despite his CCTV of two burglars running off with it in the early hours of the morning.
After the bath was found abandoned nearby, the businessman was threatened with a criminal record before the authority eventually accepted it was not him or his staff who had fly-tipped the bathroom furniture in Heaton, Newcastle, after a 40 minute-long interrogation.
Daniel, 30, has now spoken out to slam the ‘waste of money’ investigation – while Newcastle City Council said they were unable to comment as enquiries were still underway.
Daniel, from Newcastle, said: “The bath was found about five houses down the road – if I was going to flytip, why would I flytip on the same street?
“It was suggested we were flytipping to get out of paying £20, as the bath cost £20 to be disposed.
“But the property was valued at around £300,000 with the bathroom refurbishment worth £2,000 – the whole thing could have been avoided if the council had just applied some common sense.
“When I called the council to explain the misunderstanding, I was told it couldn’t be discussed over the phone because it was a criminal investigation and we had to come in for a recorded face to face interview.
“Instead, I and my staff had to take time out of the office while they investigated. It was a complete waste of time.”
Daniel, who runs property company Daniel Craig Residential, began renovating the property this year before the bath was stolen at 1.15am this March.
After retrieving the abandoned bathtub and disposing of it properly, he was stunned to receive a letter about the alleged flytipping inviting him into the council building for an interview ‘tape-recorded in accordance with the provisions of the police and criminal evidence act 1984’.
He claims when he first attempted to explain the situation to the council over the phone they told him it had to be dealt with face to face – meaning he and employee Robbie Griffin were instead forced to attend the local authority under threat of criminal prosecution.
Daniel, who claims he has since been told the matter will not be taken further, said: “We manage this property on behalf of a client and during the refurbishment the workman took the bathroom to bits and they put the old bath in the garden.
“We were planning to wait until the bathroom was finished then get a company to take everything away in one go.
“But the next day, we got a phone call from a neighbour who said the bath was at the top of the street.
“We checked their CCTV footage and could see the thieves carrying it up the street.
“Because the property is in a student area, we first assumed the bath had been picked up by students on their way home after a night out for a bit of a laugh and dumped further down the street after they became bored of carrying it.
“We had a bit of a laugh about the situation, but then we contacted the contractor to retrieve the bath straight away.”
Daniel claims when he arrived at the council, he was questioned over why he didn’t have legal representation in the building’s entrance.
He alleges he was then forced to wait while his colleague was interviewed first before their version of events was finally accepted.
He said: “The incident has taken up two days’ work, plus the time to collate the information and then two of us attending the interview.
“It also wasted a considerable amount of council time in pursuing this.
“I have no idea how much time this took but there were two officers present at our interview.
“In an environment where councils are incredibly strained due to budget cuts, a telephone call and conversation with me could have saved a lot of time and money at their end.
“I understand matters like fly tipping need to be looked at seriously, but an initial discussion with myself at the start of the process would have been far more appropriate.”
A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said they were aware of the case but could not provide a statement as investigations were still ongoing.