Essex man risked blowing himself up to steal fuel from pipes near one of Boris Johnson’s homes | Essex Live

By PiersMeyler
Posted: August 02, 2017

The crime was uncovered on Chevening Estate

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A 51-year-old man has been found guilty of orchestrating the theft of hundreds of thousands of litres of fuel from an underground pipeline in a vast estate that Boris Johnson holds the keys to.

Roger Gull, from Rainham, was part of a criminal operation which involved drilling into pipelines to steal fuel worth millions of pounds in an ‘impromptu refinery’ in farmland in the grounds of Oveney Green Farm, part of the vast 3,000 acres of Chevening Estate in Sevenoaks, Kent,

When raided by police in August 2014, it was found to contain a lorry trailer and two metal shipping containers.

Police also found 21 separate 1,000-litre, empty plastic containers and a hose running from a fuel pipeline, along the perimeter of the field into the compound.

The shipping containers had been used as a makeshift workshop where the fuel being siphoned from the high-pressure pipeline could be identified and tested.

On this occasion the fuel was red diesel, a product mostly used in the agricultural industry, Maidstone Crown Court heard last week.

An investigation led by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate revealed Gull used a false name to rent a barn on land off Ovenden Road, Chevening in July 2013.

He identified himself to the landowner as ‘Dave Saunders’ and claimed he was with a company undertaking engineering works on the M25 and needed to use the site as a storage area.

Gull, of Upminster Road, erected a metal fence and moved shipping containers onto the site – a sprawling estate of gardens, pleasure grounds, parkland and farms which includes Chevening House that Boris Johnson is the current nominated resident of.

Labourers with specialist skills and knowledge were then paid to drill into the nearby fuel pipelines. A hydraulic hose fed stolen fuel back to a compound and into huge containers stored in lorry trailer.

On August 6, 2014, ESSO Petroleum officers were searching for a potential breach of the pipeline and identified an incursion on a section at Oveney Green Farm.

Gull was arrested in November 2014 after which officers uncovered an elaborate network of criminality with further pipeline thefts detected in Essex, Hampshire and Northampton.

On July 25, Gull was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to steal hydrocarbon oils between July 1, 2013 and August 6, 2014 and two offences of money laundering. He is due to be sentenced on September 6.

Detective Constable Dean Sycamore, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: ‘Roger Gull compromised underground pipelines in a number of regions across the UK. These crimes required highly specialised and dangerous techniques to siphon the fuel, from pipelines which operate at very high pressure.

“Across the UK, millions of litres of petrol, diesel and aviation fuel were stolen.

“The site which we uncovered on land off Ovenden Road was effectively being used as an impromptu refinery. A search by officers of this location led to the discovery of a trailer, shipping containers and a caravan.

“Inside the trailer alone, were twenty containers, all of which were able to store 1,000 litres of fuel, which would then be sold on.”

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