A Westmeath businessman has been fined €8,500 for fuelling his vehicles with green diesel, with Judge Seamus Hughes saying his behaviour allowed him to undercut his competitors.
“You can achieve greater profitability and you deprived this country of valuable tax revenue,” he told haulage operator Melvin Kiernan trading as Kiernan Plant Hire in Longford, pointing out that he had reasonably new vehicles.
“You are a very greedy individual. You built up a substantial business using marked gas oil - which is there to assist farmers. You operated by stealth, undercutting your competitors,” he said.
The judge said he didn’t believe a word of the story told by Kiernan, who said he’d given €400 to a Polish employee who is no longer in the country and who filled up the truck at a green diesel pump.
“I’d send you to prison now,” said the judge, who also said he had “the gravest suspicions” that “a big strong man couldn’t attend court because of sinusitis”.
Kiernan had sent a doctor’s note to explain his absence from court but the judge said the case would go ahead and Kiernan eventually presented himself.
Customs officers examined two of his vehicles in Knockmant where they were found to contain green diesel.
The judge refused to accept that Kiernan’s employees would go to a fuel pump at the side of a filling station and fill the vehicle with green diesel, using cash from him.
He said he believed Kiernan had been forced into the cash economy and was using the cheapest fuel available.
The invoice Kiernan received showed that green diesel had been bought.
Mr Peter Jones, prosecuting the case on behalf of Revenue, said none of what Kiernan said would be acceptable to officers, who have known him since 1994.
He has a previous conviction for similar offences at Granard in 2006.
Judge Hughes fined him the maximum €5,000 for one offence and a further €3,500 for the second.