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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 69910
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Stuart. My wife left a freezer just outside our fence gate

Customer Question

Hi Stuart. My wife left a freezer just outside our fence gate for it to be picked up for recycling. When I came back after a couple of days and noticed this and put it back in our back garden's shed. A couple of days later we both received letter asking us to attend an interview under caution for fly tipping. It says that freezer was left outside and was removed on taxpayer's expense. It says it's a criminal offence and we need to attend an interview under caution. I have never been to any interviews like this so if you could please help me with how should I proceed that would be great. Thanks
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

What would you like to know about this please?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What to expect in the interview under caution?
What should I do/say in the interview?
What should I refrain from saying or doing in the interview?
Would they be asking me to plea guilty or something like that?
What are the possible outcomes of this interview especially looking at the circumstances?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

They will ask you questions about the offence.

Whether or not you answer them depends. Generally speaking, if there is no defence to offer then it should be a no comment interview. if a person has an innocent account then he should be offering it. There are lots of caveats to that though. It is really something that only a person with full vision of hte allegation and evidence could advise upon. That is why we do not ever refuse the offer of a solicitor.

I would imagine that this letter is from the EPO of the local council though and they do not have the power of arrest. If there isn't an innocent account then there is not much point in attending the interview.

However, there is always the possibility that they would offer a fixed penalty fine if you do.

It depends really whether you are willing to run the risk of being summonsed to court. Might not happen. They are hotting up about environmental offences but not everything is prosecuted.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In our case here what do you think i should do. My wife in only a housewife. There was no criminal intent. She was waiting for recycling person who had actually asked her to leave the stuff out, may be he meant just inside the outer corner of our front garden rather then just outside our gate and may be she mis-understood (having limited English Language skills - she is from a foreign country!).
I have called the person on the letter to change the date of the interview and explained this to him as well, he said it's sufficient for me to attend only, if I want. So it would be only me who would be attending although originally they sent the letters to both of us separately. He was very cooperative and the fact that I have briefly told him and still he said that if I want to attend only it's up to me.
Do you think this is the case of proving innocence to them which is the case as well and no criminal intent. It was all in good faith and as soon as I noticed this I put this back in our back garden (there was no tax payer's expense as stated on the letter). Criminal offence is a very big thing for me and my family as we are absolutely law abiding and have never had anything to do with anything like a criminal offence ever in the life before!
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

If this is an environmental offence then often they are of strict liability so it doesn't matter whether there was a criminal intent or not. In any event, she intended to leave it outside for collection and these are white goods.

For what it is worth, I don't know why you should attend and expose yourself to problems for what she has done for no other reason except that you are male. Women have to take responsibility for their actions. you can be a supportive partner without placing yourself at risk. I wouldn't get involved in this if I were you. Not your problem.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Despite of me telling him this he was quiet happy for only me to attend!! However the fact that we removed it ourselves as soon as i noticed this, do you not think that that would have any positive bearing on the outcome of this interview because they have said in the letter that they had to remove it on tax payer's expense which is not correct. It's still in my back garden.
1) I would really appreciate if you could please advise me is that what should I say during the interview which looking at the circumstances, would save us from any negative outcome from this interview.
2) Would I be asked to plea guilty? if so what should I say given the circumstances.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Yes, well he won't care either way who attends. He is the one facing action for what his wife has done. he might have a different view if he were.

The removal doesn't change the fact that they are alleging fly tipping. I think the absence of cost to the public might have an impact upon their decision but it isn't a positive defence.

In terms of interview, I would strongly suggest you do not go and you suggest your wife goes as ultimately none of this was caused by you. It is a nonsense that you should be asked to take the blame for her.

I think overall though whoever does go can only tell the truth in the hope of a fixed penalty fine. Otherwise there is no point in anybody going and the right thing to do would be to wait for a summons.

In interview you are just asked what happened. Obviously admissions can be made.

Truth is, if you attend and tell the truth then they will probably want to interview your wife anyway.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.
So would you suggest that I (or we) should not attend the interview? By summons you mean the court summons, do you?
And what about the guilty plea question?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What would be the consequences of us not attending? Would it not make the things worst?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Not if this is a non police matter. Generally speaking, unless there is a reason to offer an account not attending is the right thing to do. There is no point in going to voluntary interviews only to say no comment as that attracts an inference which would not be the case if you stayed away.

I think here though you may as well. They might just give you a fixed penalty and the reality is that they can prove this anyway.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry Jo. I am little bit unclear about this. When you say 'no comment', what does this mean. If for example they say have we put the freezer outside should I not reply to them?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Not with this type of thing.

The no comment interview has no value with a voluntary interview for the reasons above.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Sorry Jo but I am still not clear as to what advise you are giving me as it's very vague. Would you please be able advise in clear terms what should I do, should I attend, should I not, if I do what should i refrain from doing or saying during the interview and what should I specifically bring up and what do you think would be the outcome of this as now pretty much you know everything about the case. I am not left with much time so I would really appreciate if you could please advise fully.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

I am not able to do that I'm afraid. The only really clear advice I can give is that you should not be going in at all as this is nothing to do with you but is absolute entirely down to your wife.

This is a question and answer site. I cannot give you advise that can be relied upon because I have had no vision of the case.

And nobody can tell you what to say in interview because that is coaching which is prohibited.