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Recycler Lewis Bertram of Eco_Matt.e.r.s denies breaching licences by storing too many mattresses

By Paul Hooper

A recycler who kept thousands of tons of old mattresses in a business park says he was facing personal problems as he battled to clear it.

Lewis Bertram, who ran Eco_Matt.e.r.s, is accused of contravening the Environmental Protection Act by stockpiling the waste at his site in Smarden Park.

The 51-year-old, of Well Street, Loose, has denied three charges including breaching his licences

between December 11 2014 and June 10 the following year.

The mattresses at the site
The mattresses at the site

He told investigating officers that his life had been "in shreds" because of personal problems.

Bertram said he wasn't "functioning properly" and had he been an employee "would have been off work for eight months".

He told a jury at Canterbury Crown Court that he had paid for a shredder to come and do the work but was let down and had to sue the company for compensation

He said between April 2014 and 2015 his business received 8,465 mattresses, 1,667 divans and 40 sofas.

Bertram told the court he had never exceeded the weight limit for the storage of mattresses and had never stored them outside the units.

Mattresses stored at the Smarden unit
Mattresses stored at the Smarden unit

He said he is a sole-trader running the mattress recycling company and went to Smarden in August 2013.

Bertram said that photographs of the site made it look untidy, adding: "It is never going to be pleasing to the eye."

He said his salary was £20,000 a year and the business had a turnover of £120, 000 a year.

Bertram added that when he was questioned by EP officers in June 2015 he didn't realise he was facing criminal charges.

He told the jury that at the end of 2014 his home life was "an absolute living hell" because of problems with a family member.

He said he and his wife were living as prisoners inside his own home because of violence.

Bertram said that during this period he was surviving on two hours sleep as he sat in tears talking toe the Samaritans and dealing with a mental health team. He said he couldn't just "turn off the switch" and stop trading as he would have lost his business and his home.

The site was visited and pictures taken of the tons of mattresses
The site was visited and pictures taken of the tons of mattresses

Environment Agency investigators were called in after complaints from residents, a jury heard.

Prosecutor Rebecca Vanstone said Bertram had “knowingly permitted” waste to be deposited near the units.

The businessman also denies failing to provide details under Environment regulations as required by law.

The prosecutor said calculations made by an officer estimated 1116 tons of waste on one unit and 1184 tons on a second unit.

The trial continues.

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