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Jail for bus fuel thief

PUBLISHED: 19:04 08 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:54 02 March 2010

A FUEL fiddler, who stole diesel worth £35,000 and caused passengers to be stranded when their buses ran dry, is beginning two years in jail today.

William Castell, an unsupervised fitter working nights at First bus depot in Star Lane, Ipswich, siphoned the diesel out of buses after they had been filled up for the following day.

A FUEL fiddler, who stole diesel worth £35,000 and caused passengers to be stranded when their buses ran dry, is beginning two years in jail today.

William Castell, an unsupervised fitter working nights at First bus depot in Star Lane, Ipswich, siphoned the diesel out of buses after they had been filled up for the following day.

Heavily in debt, Ipswich Crown Court, heard the 50-year-old of Campbell Road, Ipswich, stole the fuel over an 18-month period which began in October 2003.

Prosecutor Peter Gair said Castell's scam could have netted more than 46,000 litres of diesel at a cost around £35,500 to First.

He told Judge John Holt care was taken by First to put the correct amount of fuel in its vehicles for their routes. It was recorded on a fuel line and against the vehicles' own milometers.

Mr Gair said: "Buses have simply run out of fuel. There have been an unusual number of vehicles running out of fuel causing considerable amount of inconvenience to the company and customers."

Castell was finally caught when his Vauxhall Omega was stopped in Quay Street by police. In the back of the vehicle were eight plastic drums, each capable of containing 25 litres. Although they were empty at the time, there was a strong smell of diesel.

When questioned by police about the containers found in his car, Castell accepted they were used by him to steal fuel and take it home.

The court heard Castell would either use the diesel himself or sell a 25-litre drum for £10.

Castell told police he would take eight barrels at a time and worked six nights a week, every fortnight for 18 months. However no one, not even Castell himself, could remember exactly how much had been stolen.

Mr Gair said: "This explains why the figures on the charge sheet is as stated. If he took 200 litres on every night, he worked, something like 234 nights, then the amount of diesel would be 46 thousand odd litres. If he sold it at £10 per drum £18,720 is what he would get."

Kevin Clarke, mitigating for Castell, who pleaded guilty to theft at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court on April 29, told the court his client had money troubles. Castell was in debt, trying to pay debts off on at least one caravan, a mortgage and also £183 per month to the Child Support Agency. Castell also has a stepson who used to work with him at the depot and had incurred debts himself. When he left his job Castell partly or wholly took the debts over.

Mr Clarke, who called Castell's scam an "extraordinary act of folly", said after his client was arrested he got a job as a driver for another travel company.

After the case Tom Oxley, spokesman for First said the company had become suspicious because some buses ran out of diesel. It had notified police who took action after another tip-off.

Mr Oxley said: "We cannot be absolutely sure which routes will have been hit directly by having fuel stolen, but the period of the thefts suggests there could be a link.

"One thing is certain, it will have certainly caused considerable inconvenience to passengers who were delayed. It also cost the company, not only for the stolen fuel, but also for replacement services."


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