31/01/2013

No Jail Time Served For Fuel Smuggling In 10 Years

In the last decade no-one has been jailed for fuel smuggling in Northern Ireland, a senior customs officer has revealed.

Assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, John Whiting, made the comments following the discovery of a diesel laundering plant in County Armagh.

Mr Whiting said the issue of jail has been raised with the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, “as a matter of concern".

"There are a number of discussions taking place, we are aware that the Lord Chief Justice has prepared some sentencing guidelines, we are also engaged with the Department of Justice in a review of comparative sentencing with England and Wales compared to Northern Ireland.

"One of the things that we have been concerned about - that we have no right of appeal in respect of unduly lenient sentences - the Department of Justice is consulting about a new piece of legislation on that issue.

"They are being sentenced, but with suspended sentences. They are getting imprisonment but it is suspended.”

His comments were made following a raid on Wednesday. Officers removed 14 tonnes of toxic waste from an isolated shed near the village of Jonesborough in south Armagh.

Large underground tanks being used to launder green diesel were discovered.

(H)


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