A UK man who accidentally threw £165m of Bitcoin cryptocurrency into landfill has revealed his latest plan to retrieve his digital fortune.
After spending a decade fighting with Newport City Council, James Howells told the Independent he’s decided to “go to battle”.
The 37-year-old IT systems engineer threw away his hard drive by mistake in 2013.
He put the hardware from an old laptop in a black bag in his hallway.
“I woke up the next morning and my ex-partner had already taken the bags to the landfill site; she thought she was doing me a favour, it wasn’t her fault” he said to the newspaper.
He planned to use environmental health and data recovery experts to help him recover the hard drive.
Once legally at the dump site, he hopes AI and a mechanical arm can help him sift through the debris and recover his funds from the gadget.
He also wants to use robot dogs to deter thieves from searching for and stealing the digital funds.
However, the council have refused his access to the landfill, despite Howells offering to cover any costs.
His new legal team wrote to the local authority on 6 September to request access.
The council was given two weeks to respond before possible escalation in the courts.
Howells hopes once his hard drive is recovered, he can make Newport the UK’s first “crypto hub”.
He’s promised to gift the 160,000 residents £50 in bitcoin each and install crypto point-of-sale devices in all independent stores.
“The idea is then people will have to learn how to use bitcoin, and that will then help them themselves going forward in the future,” he said.
“Until the door is fully slammed shut by a court, then I will continue trying, as I have over the last 10 years,” he said.
“The court is the last step for me, I am no longer asking Newport City Council for access, I am now going to be asking a judge for access.”
A spokesperson for Newport City Council made the following comment.
“Newport City Council has been contacted multiple times since 2013 about the possibility of retrieving a piece of IT hardware said to contain bitcoins, which may or may not be in our landfill site,” they said.
“The council has told Mr. Howells on multiple times that excavation is not possible under our environmental permit, and that work of that nature would have a huge negative environmental impact on the surrounding area.
“The council is the only body authorised to carry out operations on the site.
“We have been very clear and consistent in our responses that we cannot assist Mr. Howells in this matter. Our position has not changed.”