Yet another south Armagh fuel launderer escapes jail

16/3/2011: An image of a fuel laundering plant in Crossmaglen, south Armagh. It was said to be the biggest in Northern Ireland at the time. It is unconnected with any of the cases set out below.
16/3/2011: An image of a fuel laundering plant in Crossmaglen, south Armagh. It was said to be the biggest in Northern Ireland at the time. It is unconnected with any of the cases set out below.

A fuel launderer in south Co Armagh has been given a suspended sentence.

Farmer Martin Conlon, 54, was caught with a diesel laundering plant in outbuildings at his home following an HMRC investigation.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the HMRC said that in March 2015 its officers discovered the plant in a shed at Loughross Road, Crossmaglen.

A total of 4.5 tonnes of toxic waste produced in the laundering process were removed from the site.

Conlon was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, when he appeared at Newry Crown Court on Tuesday.

He had pleaded guilty in November to fraudulently evading excise duty.

Typically laundered fuel is agricultural diesel (which contains red or green markers and costs less to buy) which is filtered to make it appear like normal, more-expensive diesel for general road users.

In April 2015 the UK introduced a new fuel marker which is said to be “significantly more resistant to laundering” than other kinds.

On June 9, two people were fined for offences after fuel laundering was found at a different location in south Armagh.

Waste management company Transco Waste Ltd, its manager Vivian Devlin and landowner Paul Devlin were sentenced at Newry Crown Court following guilty pleas in January 2017 after laundering waste was found on the company’s premises at Concession Road, Cullaville.

Transco Waste Ltd was fined £6,000, Vivian Devlin £1,250 and Paul Devlin £750.

On May 2, three men linked to a sophisticated diesel laundering plant in south Armagh, which had underground storage to hide illegal fuel, were given suspended sentences.

Padraigh Doran, 33, Martin Fitzpatrick, 35, and Micheail Kennon, 25, were convicted after a large laundering plant was discovered at Kilnasaggart Road in the Jonesborough area in January 2013.

HMRC said: “The underground storage facility had the capacity to hold more than 100,000 litres of laundered fuel, with an agricultural shed built over the top in an attempt to disguise the illegal activity.

“The set-up was capable of producing 22 million litres of illicit fuel a year, evading £19.6m in lost duty and taxes.”

Doran, a mechanic from Macullagh Road, Newtownhamilton, was sentenced to two concurrent 18 months prison sentences, suspended for three years, when he appeared at Newry Crown Court (he had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing in January 2017 to the charge of the fraudulent evasion of excise duty).

Fitzpatrick, a self-employed lorry driver from Main Street, Newry, and Kennon, an unemployed farmer from Newtown Road, Belleeks, got the same sentence.

They had also pleaded guilty to the same thing.