The business ‘delivered’ 36,136 litres more than was bought from their suppliers. Robert White was handed a 15-month custodial sentence for his role in the fraud and will spend half on licence, while his son Paul was given 12 months, half which will be spent in custody. Wendy White (56), wife of Robert and mother of Paul, was sentenced to 150 hours of community service for entering into an arrangement to acquire criminal property from Jan 1st 2010 – Jan 1st 2014.
“The D.White & Sons business in Holywood operated on the trust of its customers who expected to receive the amount of fuel the defendants billed them for on each delivery,” said Mark Bell, PSNI’s detective chief inspector.
“The offending went undetected for a number of years and involved a level of sophistication to perfect the offending, manipulating the checks and balances put in place to try and prevent this type of crime from occurring.
One of the victims of the business was the Barr Hall Residential Home in Portaferry which had become increasingly concerned about its oil usage.
“Police examined invoices for oil delivery from D White & Sons and became suspicious of the lengthy delivery times on the invoice. Given these suspicions it was agreed police monitor the oil tank at Barr Hall daily to establish if, at the time of the next oil delivery, there was anything suspicious.
“After a period of monitoring as well as follow-up searches at the company office and the company address, police seized more than £20,000 in cash, along with diaries,
delivery dockets and invoices. On inspection, police found the delivery figures and invoices did not tally. One of the diaries contained figures which showed amounts of oil the pair were skimming from deliveries.
“The calculated and cunning actions of Stephen White and Paul White were despicable. They breached the trust of their loyal customers by swindling them over a five-year period. Not once did they stop and think, or care, about the impact of their callous actions.
“We hope their sentences bring some level of comfort to the victims who were conned by these merciless criminals. The public should be relieved they have been caught and are no longer able to operate their fraudulent business having been brought before the courts today.”
“The fraudulent actions of the Whites are reprehensible and the local oil industry is shocked,” said David Blevings from the Northern Ireland Oil Federation.
“D White & Son were not a member of the NI Oil Federation or any other recognised trade association and we would always advocate that consumers use distributors which have a recognised customer charter in place offering a framework for delivery standards and clear complaints procedure.
“This is an isolated case and we believe, the first of its kind in the UK & Ireland and we want to reassure oil users that the sector is regulated by having standards and safeguards in place.”