THE head of a recycling firm has been given a six-month jail term after illegally dumping mattresses and thousands of tyres on farmland.

Joseph Cahill, director of STUD Recycling Ltd, is the first person to receive a prison sentence following an investigation by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). He pleaded guilty in October last year to three offences under the Environmental Protection Act after leaving the waste on Easter Dunsyston Farm, Dunsiston Road, Airdrie between February and November 2012.

During one inspection, investigators found as many as 45,000 used vehicle tyres strewn across the site.

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As part of the sentence handed out at Airdrie Sheriff Court, Cahill's company was also given a £12,000 fine.

Sepa's executive director, Calum MacDonald, said: "This case sends a strong message out to these operators of the potential repercussions for failing to adhere with these procedures."

Following complaints from members of the public, SEPA officials found that Cahill, 41, had been depositing, keeping and treating thousands of scrap items at Easter Dunyston Farm. They uncovered old mattresses, metal drums, fuel tanks, wooden furniture and insulation material.

The court also heard that Cahill had never tried to acquire an appropriate licence and made no attempt to clear the waste when ordered to by SEPA.

Sara Shaw, wildlife and environment procurator fiscal, said Cahill's actions had placed the local area at significant risk. "Criminals who breach our environmental laws in this way can fully expect to be brought to account for their illegal actions," she added.