A computer whizz who accidentally binned his Bitcoin fortune says he has been told its value could soar to a whopping £1.5 billion - and he's now battling in court to get it back.

James Howells, 38, made the costly error ten years ago when his partner mistakenly threw out a black bin bag. The bag held a hard drive which was the only way to access his stash of cryptocurrency. He has been trying to retrieve the disc from the council-run rubbish tip ever since - and has now taken legal steps to gain permission to search the dump.

Adding salt to the wound, James says he has watched as the value of his lost 8,000 coins has risen nearly 40 per cent in just the last month - meaning they're now worth over £450 million. He told MailOnline: "Some experts believe that by the end of the year the price will rise to $25,000 per coin. That would make my hard drive worth £1.5 billion. The council may be happy to leave that in a landfill but I'm not. They want me to go away and forget about it but how could anyone? Why should I back down? All I want is a chance to get my property back.." For the latest Welsh news delivered to your inbox sign up to our newsletter

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Upset James explained that there were two identical hard drives in his office and he had accidentally bagged up the wrong one before it was thrown away. The life-altering mistake happened ten years ago when he put the hard drive containing his bitcoin wallet in a black bag during an office tidy-up and left it in the hallway of his house.

Hard drive
The type of device James has lost
James Howells
James, near the rubbish tip which could contain his millions in bitcoin

He was about to take some rubbish to the tip but that night, he had a feeling something wasn't right. Before he went to sleep, James said: "The last thought was I'll check that hard drive in the morning to check that it's the right one. I went to sleep and I didn't get the chance to check."

He planned to put them in his car and throw them away on his way to work after checking them. But he never got to do that because his ex-partner, who got up before him, saw the items and decided to help by taking them to the dump. She thought she was helping James, not knowing what was inside. When he realised what had happened, James knew it was a mistake and has been trying to get it back ever since, with support from investors. Want less ads? Download WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android

The bitcoin wallet and computer parts ended up in a landfill run by Newport City Council, and now James is fighting in court to get it back. He thought he could just ask for his things back, saying: "I immediately thought to go and ask, 'can I get my property back'." But the council won't let him.

James compared it to when a football lands in a neighbour's garden. It's still his ball. He asked for his 'football' back right away, but nobody at the council has 'answered the door' for 10 years.

James's legal battle against the council is being funded by a group of hedge fund investors who will get a portion of the value if the bitcoin is successfully found. His backers have put together a team of search experts and data-recovery engineers in the hope of locating the hard drive and getting it to work again.

They are also paying for his legal team, which includes a KC based in London to represent him in the High Court. James had previously offered to share the proceeds of a successful find with Newport Council if they gave permission, but this was unsuccessful. James said his team were seeking an injunction ruling that no-one else could dig on the land and damages for the full valuation of the bitcoin - now worth more than £350million.

Speaking earlier about how he imagined any search would work, he said: "I have assembled a full consortium of experts in the field to refute all of the claims that the council has said it has concerns over. I've spoken to data recovery experts who have worked with Nasa on the Columbia space shuttle disaster. They were able to recover from a shuttle that exploded and they don't seem to think that being at a landfill will be a problem."

Newport Council has repeatedly said: "We have 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. The council has told Mr Howells multiple times that excavation is not possible under our environmental permit, and work of that nature would have a huge negative environmental impact on the surrounding area.

'We have been very clear and consistent in our responses that we cannot assist Mr Howells in this matter. Our position has not changed. We will be offering no further comments on this issue as it takes up valuable officer time which could be spent on delivering services for the residents of Newport."

When asked specifically about his legal claims, a spokesman said they had no further comment.