Pair sentenced for £500,000 fuel laundering fraud in Newry | Belfast News Letter

Two men have been sentenced for a £500,000 fuel laundering fraud after they left DNA and fingerprints at an illegal processing plant in Newry.

The illegal fuel laundering plant in Newry

Ronan Kelly, 34 of Park View, Cloughoge, and Barry Fegan, 33, and of Bernish Crescent, Cloughoge, were arrested at a property on Forkhill Road in Newry by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers in July 2017.

A concealed fuel laundering plant and fuel sales point were uncovered during searches at the site and dismantled for inspection. The underground plant held thousands of litres of laundered fuel in its tanks and more laundered oil was found in the fuel point and five vehicles on the site.

Kelly and Fegan’s DNA and fingerprints were taken, tested and later matched to the equipment recovered from the plant.

Fegan’s DNA was also traced to another fuel laundering plant site that was discovered by HMRC on Killeen School Road, Newry, in October 2016. In January 2018, Fegan was arrested again in relation to this incident and later pleaded guilty to a second charge of tax evasion.

Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “We remain alert to the very dangerous methods criminals are using in their attempts to remove government markers from rebated fuel. We will continue to work with our multi-agency partners to tackle this crime, one we are determined to detect and put an end to.

“Given that laundering plants have been found close to homes and retail sites they have always posed a serious risk to the public. Fuel launderers also dump harmful waste and transport fuel in vehicles that are unfit for purpose and unsafe.

“We believe criminals are now experimenting with processes that carry a risk of fire as they seek to defeat fuel markers. I would urge anyone with information about this extremely dangerous activity to report it to HMRC online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

The pair pleaded guilty to all offences on 4 March 2020 at Newry Crown Court and were sentenced to six months suspended for each charge they faced when they appeared in the same court on 29 June 2020.

The pair appeared remotely before Judge Gordon Kerr QC who granted a disposal order for all items seized.

On 5 July 2017 HMRC officers attended the property at 43 Forkhill Road along with the Mobile Enforcement Team and the PSNI. They arrested both men during the search and the following items were seized from the property:

* (3 x Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC)

* 1,000 litres of UK marked gas oil

* 800 litres of laundered UK marked gas oil

* 1 Gilbarco forecourt pump

* 7,800 litres of laundered UK marked gas oil

* 1 x 15,000 litre cylindrical metal tank

* 1 x 7,500 litre metal tank

* 1 x Filtration Cylinder

* 1 x Settling Tank

* 5 x Fuel pumps and associated hoses

* 1 x 20 ft. Container containing a quantity of Alloy wheels

* 1 x pallet trolley

* 1 Brown metal Washing bay manufactured shed

* 2 x Ford Transit Connect Van

* 1 x Ford Transit Recovery Vehicle

* 1 x Ford Transit Van

* 1 x Peugeot 406