Rapper fined $30K for environmental vandalism
FINED $30,000 for dumping thousands of car and truck tyres in bushland throughout southeast Queensland, Gold Coast rapper James Yoxon left court masked by a black balaclava.
Yoxon, 28, a dad of two from Southport, apologised profusely when sentenced in Ipswich Magistrates Court on Friday afternoon for his environmental crimes.
He first pleaded guilty back in June.
James Timothy William Yoxon, a rapper who goes by the name Freewyo, pleaded guilty to 17 charges in relation to illegally dumping waste at various locations in 2018; and one charge for carrying out environmental relevant activities without environmental authority between August 22, 2018 and November 14, 2018 at Ipswich and elsewhere.
The offences relate to his illegal waste dumping activities at Laidley, Upper Flagstone, Ballard, Withcott, Adare and Lake Clarendon in the Lockyer Valley, Mount Rascal, (Toowoomba region), Coolum Beach, Landsborough, Burpengary, Yandina Creek, Berrinba, Forest Lake and Oxley.
The case was prosecuted by Eva Coggins from the Department of Environment and science. It follows on from two other successful prosecutions of Yoxon that cost him thousands of dollars in fines.
The Ipswich court heard that Gold Coast City Council and the department began investigating his illegal tyre dumping activities two years ago, with Yoxon found to have been dumping waste across four local government areas.
Ms Coggins said Yoxon ran a business called Friendly Collectors and was paid a fee to collect the tyres from businesses.
He would use variants of his name on the invoices, which Ms Coggins said suggested he was attempting to conceal his activities.
Yoxon hired trucks and a trailer and would then illegally dump the tyres in remote areas including off the side of gravel roads and even in Beerwah State Forest.
She said his illegal activities undermined the waste reduction and recycling act and environmental protection act that were intended to provide the framework to regulate such activities.
She said the tyres became breeding grounds for rodents and mosquitoes, were flammable causing toxic smoke, the chemicals in the tyres could leech into waterways.
However, no environmental damage was alleged against Yoxon.
The department sought a fine of between $30,000 and $60,000, but in submission to magistrate Dennis Kinsella the prosecutor sought the higher end.
The prosecutor also sought for a conviction be recorded given the "seriousness and wilful nature of the offending."
Yoxon told the court he no longer operates the tyre collection business and worked in digital marketing.
He said he was disgusted at what he did, being reckless by cutting corners and showing "utter disrespect" but wanted to face-up to his mistakes and move on.
"It can't be excused. I want to take full accountability," Yoxon said.
"I was in a depressed state. My mum was very sick with cancer and I was not thinking clearly," he said.
"I was not in a great head space and cutting corners.
"I hold massive shame and regret for all of what I've done. It should not have been done and if I could take it back.
"I'm fully accountable and face up to it."
Mr Kinsella said Yoxon had been prosecuted in two cases before a Southport court and fined $4000 and $12,000.
Yoxon in his commercial operation charged $1.30 for a motorcycle tyre - to $4.50 for a truck tyre.
Mr Kinsella said it involved the dumping of more than 3,500 tyres - 118,000 litres in total at 17 sites.
He accepted that Yoxon's contrition was genuine but said the unique Australian environment must be protected.
He found the offences to be part of one ongoing course of conduct and took into account the previous $16,000 in fines.
Mr Kinsella fined Yoxon $30,000 - sent to the government agency SPER for a payment plan.
No conviction was recorded. Yoxon was ordered to pay the department's investigation and legal costs of nearly $4000.