Roger Gull, 51, and son Ryan, 28 allegedly set up a makeshift refinery in the grounds of Boris Johnson’s ministerial Chevening estate as part of a scheme to steal 1.5 million USD of hydrocarbon fuel.

When police raided the site in 2014, they found metal shipping containers, 1,000-litre empty plastic containers and a hose running from a fuel pipeline into a truck trailer.

Petrol, diesel and aviation fuel was also stolen from pipelines across Essex, Hampshire, Northamptonshire, and Cheshire over a 17-month period.

Prosecutor Dale Sullivan told Maidstone Crown Court that Roger Gull tapped the pipelines in several locations and arranging storage and distribution of the stolen fuel. Ryan Gull is accused of using his position as director of family businesses to launder money from the sales.

The court was told that millions of liters of fuel were stolen from various illegal taps between June 2013 and November 2014. The overall value, including the cost of repair and clean-up operations, was reported as several million dollars. The court heard from petroleum officers searching for a potential breach of the pipeline in August of 2014, had found an illegal tap and a hose running along the perimeter of the field for 250 metres on a section at Oveney Green Farm.

The thieves hot tapped the high-pressure, multi-product pipelines, which pump 350,000 liters of fuel per hour and attached hydraulic hoses, fitted with pressure gauges and valves. Initially, the hoses ran to buckets buried beneath roadsides and fields that the thieves emptied into large plastic containers. It is claimed the operation later became more sophisticated. Vans with a reinforced suspension were used to carry off the stolen fuel.

The prosecutor told the court one unsuccessful theft attempt left a substantial amount of jet fuel leaking into a field in Essex. The gang changed tactics and hired farmland and set up 'impromptu refineries' in sheds and outbuildings. The first of these was the one in the grounds of Chevening Estate.

The trial is expected to last up to five weeks.  

Source: The Daily Mail, The Mirror

See how Atmos International helped reduce fuel thefts from UK pipelines by 76% from 2015 to 2016 and to zero thefts detected so far in 2017 here.