A COUNTY Limerick filling station was selling laundered diesel to the “unsuspecting public”, a court has heard.
Oliver Traynor of Rosskeagh, Kilcurry, Dundalk, Co Louth pleaded guilty to keeping oil containing blue dye for sale at Sure Fuels, Kilcornan Stores.
State solicitor Aidan Judge prosecuted on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners at Newcastle West Court. He said Mr Traynor did keep for sale 8,400 litres of laundered diesel at the filling station on the main Limerick to Foynes road.
Mr Judge said that on February 23, 2012 it was inspected by customs and excise officers. He asked Linda Ryan, one of those who called to the filling station, what they discovered.
“We arrived at 4.05pm for a routine review of records and test the fuel,” said Ms Ryan. One of the samples proved positive for blue dye. Ms Ryan said it was washed or laundered fuel. Mr Judge asked was it being sold to the public as fuel and she said yes.
She said the person they met at the petrol station - not Mr Traynor - was “highly uncooperative and aggressive”. Gardai had to be called.
“We asked him to turn off the dispensing pumps and he refused to do so. We put tapes around them which he took away,” said Ms Ryan.
She confirmed that customers called to the forecourt while she was there and that the fuel was for sale to the “unsuspecting public”.
Ms Ryan said fuel laundering creates pollution; costs county councils a lot of money to dispose of the resultant sludge; loss of revenue and can cause major mechanical damage to cars. Judge Mary Larkin asked where the oil is laundered, to be told the “border region”.
Mr Judge said the maximum penalty was €5,000, mitigated to not less than €2,500 and or 12 months imprisonment.
Under the Finance Act there is a temporary prohibition order for the sale of oil from the premises for not less than one day and not more than seven days.
Padraig D Lyons BL, who represented Mr Traynor, said his client is a married man with two children.
“He has no previous convictions. He is involved in the fuel business since 2011,” said Mr Lyons.
The barrister said while his client wasn’t present on the day of the offence he stressed that the person in charge wasn’t acting on Mr Traynor’s instructions.
Mr Lyons apologised to the customs and excise officers and gardai.
“He entered an early guilty plea and acknowledges the seriousness of the offence. He has a sum of €1,000 in court to pay to charity as well as the monetary penalty,” said Mr Lyons.
Judge Larkin asked if Mr Traynor had told where the laundered fuel came from? Mr Judge said it came from a depot in Dundalk and Mr Lyons said the state was aware where it was purchased.
Judge Larkin said there were serious consequences from buying such diesel.
“It is an illegal and dangerous trade,” said Judge Larkin.
She fined Mr Traynor €2,500 and imposed a temporary prohibition order of four days.