A farmer in Northern Ireland has been convicted and fined for illegally connecting to a public water mains at a recent sitting of Newry Court.

William Morton, from 125 Ballyards Road in Co. Armagh, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Water and Sewerage Services (NI) Order 2006 on Friday, April 21.

The offences related to connecting to a public water main without consent and tampering with a water meter.

He was fined £800 (€942) on each offence with an offender’s levy fee of £15 (€18) and £37 (€43) in court costs. In addition, the court imposed a compensation order of £12,834.19 (€15,115), as well as legal costs of £900 (€1,060).

Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) workers attended a farm owned by Morton on May 27, 2016 and found an illegal connection used by the Co. Armagh farmer to supply unmeasured mains water to the property.

NI Water underlined that it is an offence to connect to the water or sewerage network without its consent.

This is not a ‘victimless crime’. This reckless action has the potential to contaminate water supplies or lead to pollution incidents.

“NI Water takes any interference with its network and meter tampering very seriously and seeks to bring the perpetrators to court when identified. NI Water will also seek to back bill perpetrators for up to six years’ water charges,” a statement said.

There are 26,700km of water mains and 15,600km of sewers in Northern Ireland.

Set up in 2007, NI Water delivers drinking water to approximately 840,000 households and businesses; supplying customers with approximately 560m litres of drinking water every day.

It also collects around 330m litres of wastewater per day from around 669,000 households or organisations connected to the sewerage system and transfer it to a works, where it is treated and disposed of safely.