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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Woman cleared in recycling case
Donna Challice
Donna Challice denied the charges
A mother-of-three from Devon has been cleared of failing to sort household waste properly.

Donna Challice, 30, of Wonford, Exeter, was acquitted of putting ordinary rubbish in a special recycling bin by Cullompton magistrates.

She denied six charges brought by Exeter City Council at a cost of 6,000, in what was thought to be the first such case.

The council said after the case that the law was clearly not workable.


Ms Challice was accused of putting waste, including left-over takeaways, cigarette ends, bicycle parts and the contents of a vacuum cleaner into the recycling bin provided by Exeter City Council.

But magistrates said the prosecution had been unable to prove that she was responsible for the contamination.

Her solicitor Mark Shell earlier told the court: "There is no CCTV, no video evidence and no independent witnesses to say that she is responsible.

We believe that we had sufficient evidence if the act was workable to prove guilt
Mike Trim

"But someone clearly put it there. Who? That's not our problem."

He added that Ms Challice was "delighted" at the verdict.

Exeter City Council said it was "disappointed" with the outcome which it brought under the Environmental Protection Act.

Mike Trim, head of cleansing said: "We believe that we had sufficient evidence if the Act was workable to prove guilt."

Councillor Pete Edwards said: "In Exeter we have a very straightforward kerbside recycling scheme which is easy to follow.

"Every day, thousands of people in the city diligently sort through their rubbish, separating residual waste from recyclables.

"It only takes one person to contaminate their green bin and we have to discard a whole lorry-load of recyclables.

"We can't let the thoughtless minority spoil it for the selfless majority."

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