IN one of the first cases of its kind, Bexley Council has used the courts to confiscate the profits of an illegal business run without planning permission, from a residential house .

Bexley made the application to Woolwich Crown Court under the Proceeds of Crime 2002 Act, in a case involving Joseph and Ruth Chakaza of Basilon Road, Bexleyheath.

The couple were running an unauthorised car sales business from their home without planning permission.

In March last year, Chakaza aged 31, and his wife aged 30, were summonsed by the council after failing to comply with an enforcement notice, to stop using their home as a business.

They appeared Bexley Magistrates Court in July 2010 after pleading not guilty, but were convicted and sent to Woolwich Crown Court for sentencing.

The crown court was also asked to consider the council’s application for a confiscation order.

When the couple appeared in court on May 6, Chakaza was fined £750 with £250 costs, to be paid within six months.

Judge Charles Byers accepted Mrs Chakaza had no separate income of her own and that the offence was entirely down to her husband.

She was ordered to pay £100 and given six months to pay.

When considering Bexley’s application for a confiscation order, the judge heard Chakaza was estimated to have made a profit of £182,120 from his illegal car business.

He ordered the money to be confiscated, but accepted Chakaza was not currently in a position to pay it all back.

Chakaza was ordered to pay back £3,000 within six months or face a 28-day jail sentence, after which he would still be liable for the £3,000.

If at a future date he is able to pay back the rest of his profits, the remainder will also be confiscated.

Bexley’s planning committee chairman Councillor Peter Reader said: “This is one of the first cases in the country where a confiscation order has been issued against someone who has benefited from breaking planning rules.”

All the council officers involved in the case had been trained to deal with proceeds of crime matters.