A SCRAPYARD boss who ran an illegal waste operation has had £500,000 knocked off what he has been ordered to repay

Lee Hazel was given three months to hand over more than £2.5m of his illgotten gains at a court hearing in July.

After the matter was brought back before Judge Tim Mousley QC sitting at Swindon Crown Court on Monday the figure was slashed to less than £2m.

The 48-year-old owner of Melksham Metal Recycling has a new period of three months in which to come up with the cash - or face an eight year jail term.

Nicolas Gerasimidis, defending, said that the adjustment from the figure comes from VAT being included in the initial amount representing his benefit from crime

He said that the Environment Agency, who brought the prosecution, had also included invoices for dealing with ferrous metals which were not part of his crimes.

His total benefit from crime is now £1,990,4063.39, down from £3,002,705.15, and as he has realisable assets of £2,742,953.68 he has to pay the benefit figure in full.

Hazel and his company dumped stone off-cuts and sludge on farm land and in a disused canal as well as carrying out illicit operations at his town centre yard.

The company owned by the defendant, who has houses on Pembroke Road and in Beanacre, Melksham, was also to pay £700 in fines at the July hearing.

Because of the size of the order the judge imposed 'nominal' £100 fines on the seven charges the firm had pleaded guilty to.

He also said he could not order the Environment Agency's costs of bringing the case, which has dragged on for five years, which stand at £152,285.41

A hearing last year was told the despite being the cleanest in the county Hazel's yard, which he has run for 20 years, was closed down as his licences were revoked.

Last year he was spared jail for his part in dumping waste by the old Wilts and Berks Canal as well as taking in vast quantities of rubbish which he was not permitted to handle.

He was caught after a county council enforcement officer visited a farm in Lowbourne belonging to Richard Bourne in 2011.

After spotting a huge variety of waste material dumped on fields and by the old canal, he also saw a line of 'chalky liquid' on the road.

He followed the trail, which was similar to sludge dumped on the farm, and found it led him close to Station Yard, where Melksham Metal Recycling is based.

A couple of weeks later, when the Environment Agency visited the farm, they spotted a Melksham Metals lorry laden with stone driving on to the site.

Hazel, of Pembroke Road, Melksham, and the company were found guilty after trial in 2014 of disposing controlled waste without a permit.

In November 2015 he and the company pleaded guilty to ten regulatory offences relating to taking waste without correct permits.

They admitted the unauthorised treatment of controlled waste at the site on Station Yard, Bath Road, from 2004-2008, breaching a waste control licence, operating a regulated facility without a permit by processing stone dust, and having waste without authorisation.

Hazel was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years, and was not barred from being a company director.