A WOMAN who dumped a bag of grass in a Christchurch car park has been convicted of fly-tipping after she was spotted by two off-duty police officers.

Caterina Marinelos, of Heather View Road in Poole, had denied the charge. However, the officers witnessed a ‘blonde in a white BMW’ leaving a bin liner full of garden waste in the Saxon Square car park in Christchurch.

The defendant, who is 37, was found guilty of the unlawful deposit of controlled waste following a trial at Poole Magistrates’ Court last week.

The court heard she committed the crime on May 10 last year.

One of the off-duty officers was in his car in the car park when he saw a couple returning to the BMW.

He then noticed a blonde woman going to the boot of the car and taking out a black bin liner, which appeared to be full of grass.

The blonde put the bin bag on the ground and then drove off.

The officer’s partner, who is also a PC, noted the BMW’s registration details and reported the incident to the Dorset Waste Partnership’s enforcement team for further investigation.

The team then tracked the blonde – Marinelos – to her address, which was then in Bingham Road, Christchurch.

A fixed penalty notice for fly-tipping was issued.

However, the defendant failed to pay her fine.

As a result, enforcement officers began working with Dorset County Council’s legal team to take the case to court.

Marinelos has now been given a six-month conditional discharge.

She was also ordered to pay £500 towards the prosecution costs, as well as a £20 victim surcharge.

A spokesperson from the Dorset Waste Partnership said Marinelos was just minutes away from a tip.

“This is yet another example of someone illegally dumping waste which could have been taken to a household recycling centre and dropped off free of charge,” the spokesperson said.

“Christchurch household recycling centre is open daily and less than 10 minutes’ drive from where the waste was tipped.

“And yet, even in the face of strong evidence, the defendant chose not to pay the issued fixed penalty notice and has instead been prosecuted.

The Dorset Waste Partnership takes fly-tipping extremely seriously. We do not issue fixed penalty notice’s lightly, but we have no hesitation in acting when an offender is caught red-handed breaking the law.

“This prosecution also demonstrates that paying a fixed penalty notice is not optional and we are fully prepared to take non-payees to court.”

The Dorset Waste Partnership is currently running its ‘tip-off’ campaign which aims to ensure people are protected when handing their waste to others.

For more information, as well as what to do if you see a fly-tip and what you can take to your local household recycling centre, visit dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/tip-off