Farmer 'pressurised' into letting land be used for fuel laundering
A court has heard how a south Armagh farmer was "acting under significant pressure'' when he allowed his property to be used in fuel laundering.
Francis Gregory (49), of Foxfield Road, Crossmaglen, received a six month suspended sentence yesterday after he was convicted in May by a jury of possession of a shed and equipment used in fuel laundering.
The charge related to a search of his farmland by HM Revenue and Customs on August 12, 2014 in relation to fuel laundering in the south Armagh area.
Prosecution lawyer Geraldine McCullough said the total loss to the public purse over the fuel laundering plant was £10,472.
She told Judge Patricia Smyth officers recovered over 18,000 litres of contaminated fuel and a further 1,300 litres of waste. Ms McCullough said the estimated cost of dismantling the illegal plant was £14,398.
Newry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard the prosecution had dropped plans to bring confiscation proceedings against Gregory.
Defence barrister Des Fahy said married father-of-five Gregory told a consultant psychiatrist after his conviction that he had been pressured to let his premises be used in fuel laundering.
Mr Fahy said: "It is clear there was a significant level of pressure, and an existing pressure, on this man culminating in what can be said is a forced use of his premises."