A FUEL company which was prosecuted for selling laundered diesel at a garage in Limerick city successfully appealed the conviction on a technicality.
NR Filling Station Ltd, which has a registered address at Newry Road, Dundalk, County Louth was fined €5,000 at Limerick Court in March.
During a contested appeal, customs officer Linda Ryan said she and a colleague visited the company’s garage on the Dublin Road at 2.45pm on July 12, 2011.
The Court heard that three fuel samples were taken from each of two pumps at the forecourt and that an analysis of the samples showed the presence of the blue dye anthraquinone, a marker added to fuel to indicate a reduced rate of tax has been paid.
Ms Ryan and her Revenue colleague Paul O’Byrne told Judge Pauline Codd that there was a steady stream of vehicles filling their tanks at the pumps on the day.
Mr O’Byrne said Revenue officers in Dundalk had attempted to contact the directors of the company who he believes are based in Northern Ireland, but that this has been unsuccessful.
The court was told it had taken considerable time and effort to establish the identity of the company behind the filling station as it has traded under a number of names, including Limerick Fuels and Low Price City Diesel.
Donal O’Rourke BL, defending, said customs officers are required by law to retain a written record pertaining to the taking and storage of an samples before the are sent for analysis.
Limerick Circuit Court was told that while Ms Ryan did take contemporary notes at the filling station in relation to the taking of the samples, she did not keep a written record relating to their storage at a secure Revenue facility in the city.
State Solicitor Michael Murray submitted that while written records had not been kept he did not believe that it should be “fatal to the prosecution” against the company.
However, after reading the relevant legislation, Judge Codd disagreed.
Allowing the appeal, she said the keeping of a written records was mandatory and that there was a “lacuna in the Prosecution case”