Two haulage chiefs from Northern Ireland have been jailed in England after their staff broke the law by driving for up to 22 hours a day.
Patrick James Boyle (65) and his son Mark Anthony Boyle (36) were sentenced to two years and 18 months respectively for falsifying company records at Carlisle Crown Court in Cumbria yesterday.
The Co Armagh pair, who are directors in Camlough-based Boyle Transport, both initially denied the charges but eventually admitted to conspiring with drivers to tamper with tachograph records.
The duo were charged after a detailed investigation by Cumbria Police which began in 2008.
It emerged in court that some of the haulage firm’s drivers were behind the wheel for up to 22 hours a day, 10 hours more than the legal limit.
It was also revealed that each of the company’s digital tachographs, which record the hours spent by a driver behind the wheel, had been adjusted.
The investigation began after eight of the company's vehicles were stopped on the way to Cumbria from Glasgow in 2008.
Although based in Northern Ireland, much of Boyle Transport’s work was carried out in Scotland.
Fifteen drivers from Boyle Transport also appeared in court and pleaded guilty to interfering with their tachographs. Each was given a suspended sentence.
A number of the drivers were told they would have been jailed for 12 months had they not co-operated with the police investigation.
Patrick James Boyle and son Mark Anthony Boyle were jailed for conspiring to tamper with tachograph records despite letters of support from outgoing Executive minister Conor Murphy, UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy and a priest. Under European rules, drivers must use a tachograph to record hours of driving, other work, breaks and rest periods when driving a qualifying vehicle. The daily driving limit is nine hours taken between two consecutive daily rest periods or between a daily rest period and a weekly rest period.