North Norfolk builder fined �3,500 and vehicle crushed over illegal fuel

A builder who adapted a 4x4 to conceal illegal fuel has been landed with a �3,500 bill and had the vehicle crushed.

The vehicle was one of eight – including a seven-tonne tipper truck and small and large vans – which were seized from a business in North Norfolk during an operation involving HM Revenue and Customs and police.

The builder has not been identified and no more details have been released about where he was from.

All the vehicles were found to have kerosene or red diesel in the tanks.

The 4x4 had an elaborate concealed tank under the boot compartment for disguising illegal red diesel and it was taken away and crushed.

The other seven vehicles were returned to the builder after he was fined �500 for each of them for having illegal fuel in the tank and for filling the tank up.

Mark Allison from HMRC's inland detection team, said: 'Those who use rebated fuels illegally are abusing a tax system, which is there to support and reduce the burden on UK industries such as agriculture. It isn't about cheating the government out of a few pounds, it's about depriving our public services of vital funding.'

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The fraud was uncovered after Norfolk Police stopped a vehicle for a routine check and noticed that it appeared to be running on kerosene.

The incident took place on March 17 and further investigations are on going.

Det Sgt Pete Jessop, from Norfolk Police's Operation Radar team which specialises in fuel thefts, said: 'This is an excellent example of multi-agency working to drive down the illegal use of fuel in vehicles on our roads. This came from a routine stop check by a police officer who was suspicious about the vehicle. This in turn led to further offences being uncovered and that's when we called in our colleagues from the HMRC Inland Detection team to take over the enquiry.

'My message is this, if you use a vehicle on a road in this county there is a rapidly increasing chance you will get caught. Police officers are more and more aware of the use of these fuels and are actively seeking offenders.'

Anyone who knows of fuel misuse or suspicious activities should contact the HMRC Hotline on 0800 59 5000.