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Grandfather behind huge fuel laundering operation jailed

A grandfather who was the linchpin of a large scale diesel and money laundering operation has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Jailing 62-year-old Thomas James Fox at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice McLaughlin said he was satisfied “beyond any doubt that he was the fulcrum around this entire operation”.

Fox, from Orritor Road, Cookstown, had pleaded guilty to 69 charges of evading duty and VAT on diesel, transferring, concealing and converting the proceeds of crime and criminal property, and obtaining money transfers, services and property by deception on dates between 2002 and 2005.

Fox's son Anthony Michael Fox (40) walked free from court after his 12-month jail term was suspended for three years after he pleaded guilty to evading the duty on diesel and concealing the proceeds of crime and criminal property. Mr Justice McLaughlin said while he accepted Fox jnr had been the driver of oil-filled lorries, “one has to keep one's feet on the ground about the nature of his involvement and the extent of his knowledge”.

Also jailed yesterday for a year after he agreed to spend a further year on probation was 42-year-old Leonard Warwick, who pleaded guilty to 17 charges of evading VAT, converting criminal property, obtaining services and money by deception and concealing the proceeds of crime.

His role, said the judge, was that he was “exploited” to use his identity and other fake identities to open numerous bank accounts through which the money was laundered.

A previous court heard that by backtracking through the 30 bank accounts which could be associated with the “large scale operation”, police were able to find out that over the years a total of 250,000 litres of cat litter were purchased to filter diesel through, thereby removing the dye from it.

Yesterday Mr Justice McLaughlin said that by best estimates, that would equate to between five and 10m litres of fuel being laundered. He revealed that financial investigations showed £685,000 had been laundered through the various bank accounts.

Mr Justice McLaughlin adjourned the confiscation proceedings aspect of the case until April.

Belfast Telegraph