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Father-of-five caught laundering thousands of litres of diesel

CourtsBy Sunday World
Paul Haughey
Paul Haughey

An Armagh father-of-five who was caught trying to launder thousands of litres of diesel in a rural property in Monaghan will be sentenced in December.

Paul Haughey (36) with an address in Dundrum Road, Keady, Co Armagh pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of attempting to remove markers from gas oil without the consent of the Revenue Commissioners on September 1, 2011.

Prosecuting barrister Cathleen Noctor, BL, told the court today that markers were used in oil distribution to differentiate between diesel fuel and mineral oil.

At the time of the offence, the standard rate of tax on diesel fuel was just over €465 per 1000 litres, while the tax rate on mineral oil was €88 per 1000 litres, the court heard.

The property near Castleblaney, Co Monaghan was under surveillance by gardaí in September 2011 when Haughey and another man were seen entering the premises, Detective Garda Paul Kane told the court.

They started the process of laundering diesel before armed gardaí and customs officials swooped on the premises. Haughey was stopped by an armed garda as he attempted to flee.

Over 13,000 of laundered diesel was discovered on the premises, Det Gda Kane said.

The court heard Haughey has no previous convictions in the Republic of Ireland and one conviction for drink-driving in the North.

Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, submitted his client had only a small part in the operation and had co-operated fully with gardaí, including travelling to Dublin on two occasions. He said the matter had been hanging over Haughey for five years due to various delays and “through no fault of his own”.

“It has taken a significant toll on him,” he said. A psychological report tendered in court found Haughey was suffering from severe depression.

Mr O'Higgins said his client had continued to work to provide for his wife and five children and was someone who had a “high standing in the community”.

“He is now deeply ashamed and very conscious of the odium he has brought on his family,” he said, adding Haughey was highly unlikely to re-offend.

Mr O'Higgins asked Judge Melanie Greally to consider a non-custodial sentence and to consider a penalty of community service instead.

Judge Greally said it was an offence “which must be marked with a serious sanction”. “It is behaviour that must be deterred,” she said.

She ordered a community services report and adjourned the matter for sentencing on December 19.

By Isabel Hayes