A WASTE site fraudulently sold military gear to a foreign army and ran three illegal tips - two of which were in Kidderminster.

Sidney Nicholls was before Worcester Crown Court on Wednesday (March 13), this time for operating three waste sites without an environmental permit.

The 57-year-old was jailed for two years for fraud in May 2015 after selling British military kit (worth £12million) to the Jordanian Army for £120,000 despite being instructed to destroy it.

Nicholls had been paid by the Ministry of Defence to scrap equipment including Kevlar body armour, helmets and riot shields but stockpiled it instead so he could sell it on. But the MoD intercepted the shipment at sea before it reached its intended destination.

Nicholls, of Stanford Bridge, north of Worcester, admitted three counts of contravening the environmental permitting regulations as judge Jim Tindal called him a "shyster and a huckster".

The offences, prosecuted by the Environment Agency, happened at Smethwick Drop Forge, off Stourport Road, Kidderminster, Gemini Business Park, also off Stourport Road, and at Cherry Tree Farm, Stanford Bridge.

The illegal activity occurred between March 2012 and May 2015.

His waste management operation continued even after he was evicted from Gemini Business Park as Nicholls diverted waste elsewhere, including to a site around the corner from his home.

The total clean-up costs of £163,000 had to be met by companies which made use of his waste management service including British Airways, Kraft Foods and Co-op.

By operating the sites in the way he did Nicholls avoided costs in the region of £100,000, including the £32,206 for the permits, while the Environment Agency had to pay out £62,258 in investigation work and legal costs - that cash coming from the taxpayer.

Timothy Pole, prosecuting, said Nicholls had registered exemptions in the names of dormant companies and became director of various companies which were promptly liquidated.

Environment Agency inspectors found food waste at the Gemini site, including yoghurt and wine but the exemption did not cover those types of waste. Nicholls was told he needed to move that waste off the site.

Despite the warning, the operation carried on and Mr Pole said Nicholls told "a number of lies".

These included telling the agency that a permit had been applied for when "plainly it hadn’t been" and that an application had been returned because the wrong companies had been placed on it which "wasn’t the case".

The Environment Agency visited the Gemini site on August 8, 2012 and discovered dairy waste being put through a bailer machine, plainly a breach of the food waste exemption, and lack of compliance continued at this site until the end of 2013.

At Smethwick Drop Forge Nicholls's actions caused a risk of contamination to water courses, including the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal.

"There was a very clear risk of pollution in this case," said Mr Pole who told the court food waste could cause the growth of micro-organisms, leading to deoxygenation of the water, damaging fish and wildlife as well as attracting rats.

The site had also been identified as an inherent fire risk by officers from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and there were large piles of waste which were not segregated.

Mr Pole said if water had been used to fight any fire at the site it would have created "toxic run off" which would have polluted the canal.

During one visit Environment Agency workers found a curtain-sided lorry with 20 leaking 1,000 litre IBC containers inside. Nicholls told them he would move the lorry and later told them it had been taken to a pig farm, the court heard.

Judge Jim Tindal said Nicholls had used separate corporate identities to "shuffle companies like you would shuffle cards" and avoid the costs of paying for permits.

He said of one of the sites: "In blunt terms, it stank."

The judge described Nicholls’s claims that he would get a permit as "a downright lie" and said he had conducted himself in a consistently unlawful way for years.

He said: “You are a shyster and a huckster. You cut corners and have little thought about the consequences.”

The judge accepted that there may well have been others besides Nicholls involved but said he was the centre of what was a large scale waste operation.

The Environment Agency had already agreed to pay half the £120,000 costs of the costs although the judge said by pleading guilty Nicholls had "saved a considerable amount of public money".

The judge said Nicholls would probably have served a consecutive jail sentence had these matters been known about when he was jailed in 2015.

Judge Tindal sentenced him to one year in prison suspended for two years. He ordered Nicholls to pay £30,000 costs within 12 months.