Suspended prison sentences have been handed down to three men charged in connection with what has been described as a “sophisticated” fuel laundering operation in south Armagh.
At Newry Crown Court, 35-year-old Martin Fitzpatrick, from Newry, and Micheail Kennon, aged 26 and from Belleeks, were each given jail sentences of 18 months, suspended for three years.
They admitted evading duty on fuel.
Also before the court was Padraig Doran, from Newtownhamilton. He was also given an 18-month prison term, suspended for three years, for the same offence.
The 33-year-old was also sentenced for another related offence after he was stopped driving a van containing 2,400 litres of laundered diesel back in November 2014.
The investigation into the trio was sparked after the discovery of a major laundering plant in the Jonesboro area in January of the year before.
Beneath an agricultural shed, Customs officials found a storage facility which was capable of holding more than 100,000 litres of laundered fuel.
During the course of the operation, HMRC seized two fuel tankers, as well as 39,000 litres of laundered fuel, and removed from the site 18,000 litres of sludge, the toxic byproduct of the laundering process.