A Penzance businessman has been ordered to pay £54,900 for crimes he was convicted of 12 years ago, after he previously paid only £100 in recompense - but has since seen his fortunes change.

The sum must be paid within three months, otherwise he will be sent to prison for 12 months.

Michael William Leah, aged 59, of Castle Gate, Ludgvan, near Penzance, appeared before Truro Crown Court on Friday, in a case brought by the Environment Agency under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

He was ordered to pay £49,900 for a confiscation order, plus £5,000 in costs.

The court heard that in August 2011, Leah was convicted of six offences related to illegally depositing controlled waste at sites near Newbridge and Gweek, near Penzance and Helston respectively, for which he received a suspended prison sentence and made subject to a confiscation order.

Though he had made £50,000 through his crimes, at the time of his conviction he was bankrupt and had only £100 to his name and was ordered to pay that in recompense.

Since then he has inherited a property, and his case was brought back to court last week following an investigation by the Environment Agency’s Economic Crime Unit for reconsideration of the confiscation order.

The Environment Agency said that Leah maintained that his home was owned by a trust, but a paper trail showed that he was a trustee of that trust, with access to more than £700,000 in assets.

Now running a haulage company, Leah’s three main contracts are worth over £200,000 and he owned vehicles worth a total of nearly £60,000, added the authority.

Following the hearing, Ashley Davies of the Environment Agency said: “This case shows that criminals who think they have got off lightly can think again. We’ll still come after them if their fortunes change.”