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Judge rejects haulier appeal over tacho fraud

  • 06 May 2014
  • By Roger Brown

Upper tribunal judge Michael Brodrick has dismissed an appeal by Arnold Transport Sons against the revocation of its O-licence for tachograph fraud.

Following an appeal hearing in Belfast in March, the judge upheld the November 2013 ruling of Donald Armstrong, former head of the Transport Regulation Unit, to revoke the firm’s licence, disqualify director Paul Arnold for three years and ban him from acting as a transport manager for the same period.

At Omagh Crown Court in May 2013, six drivers received suspended prison sentences of varying lengths for tachograph offences under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.

The following month, Arnold was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court to two years in prison, suspended for three, for tachograph fraud.

It followed a raid on the haulier’s premises in Newtownstewart, County Tyrone, in August 2011, by officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). Five trucks at the company – authorised to run 12 vehicles – were found to have complex devices capable of interrupting the signal to the tacho.

The devices were also able to override the speed-limiter device, with the result that the vehicle was capable of exceeding the legal limit of 56mph by about 50% (although there was no evidence that any vehicle had been used at excessive speed). A police officer involved in the investigation said it took a day and a half to find the device fitted to one vehicle. He described the fitting of the devices as “very professionally done” .

A member of the DVA compliance team said there was “not a chance that a standard vehicle examiner would have been able to find these devices on a standard MoT test” .

By operating the remote button, the speed, distance and mode recording made by the tachograph would be switched off, without leaving any physical mark on the tacho chart that could be detected when the chart was analysed.

Arnold explained at the public inquiry that using the devices enabled him to keep the business going, and “basically keep the wolf from the door”.

In November 2013, Arnold filed an appeal, stating that he had hoped for a lesser penalty to enable the company to continue to trade.

However, Brodrick concluded that Armstrong’s revocation decision had been “proportionate, appropriate and justified by the evidence” and that with regards to the disqualification orders there was “no question of three years being disproportionate” .

- Last month, Arnold was ordered to pay £82,800 following a confiscation order. In a hearing at Antrim Crown Court, Arnold was told he had six months to pay the money under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or face a two-year prison sentence.

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Article source: http://www.commercialmotor.com:80/latest-news/judge-rejects-haulier-appeal-over-tacho-fraud