Mid Ulster Fuel laundering convictions 'welcomed'

Keith Buchanan
Keith Buchanan

The conviction of three Mid Ulster men for fuel laundering following a search at coach company premises in Ardboe on March 19, 2014 has been welcomed.

Calling for HM Revenue and Customs and the PSNI to dedicate more resources to tackle the scourge of fuel laundering, Mid Ulster DUP MLA Keith Buchanan said: "The issue of fuel laundering and the selling of illicit fuel has become almost epidemic in some parts of Northern Ireland.

"This has gone on for years now and we seem no nearer to eradicating this criminality from our society."

Coalisland man Gareth Malachy Doris (39) of Gortnaskea Place - with a previous conviction for throwing a device at Coalisland police station - and John Thomas O'Neill (46) of Sandy Row were jailed at Dungannon Magistrates Court, for four and one month respectively, while Cookstown man Kevin Quinn (40) - a partner in J&K Coaches - was given a one-month suspended sentence and fined £1,000.

"Fuel laundering is not a victimless crime as it’s the motorists and taxpayers who are left picking up the tab every single time they fill up their vehicles, whilst the criminal gangs operating these laundering plants siphon off millions of pounds of revenue that could otherwise be used to build new roads, schools or hospitals," Mr Buchanan added.

"Not only is there the issue of the illegal fuel but very often there is environmental damage caused to the area around these laundering plants due to the toxic sludge waste left over after the laundering process and this often costs local authorities thousands of pounds to clean up.

"The time has come for a zero tolerance policy in relation to these crimes with robust jail sentences to match the level of criminality and tax evasion involved. I call again on the authorities to step up to the mark on this issue. We must have more arrests and stiff custodial sentences handed down to all those involved in this criminal behaviour."

Welcoming the news of the convictions Keith Buchanan MLA continued: "Some individuals within society show no remorse or care towards society or the rule of law. Their past does and will catch up with them."