A high pressure fuel line running from Canvey Island to the Buncefield refinery in Hertfordshire has been hacked into in an apparent attempt to steal fuel.

Basildon Magistrates Court was told that damage costing £250,000 was caused to the pipeline by people who dug down to the pipeline at Bird Lane, Warley, Brentwood in Essex.

Lithuanian lorry driver Jonas Vainauskas, 55, of Headingley Road, Birmingham, denies digging up part of a field off Bird Lane, and connecting a hosepipe to the pipeline. He also says he didn’t extract 600 litres of fuel from the pipeline.

The British Pipeline Agency, which owns and maintains the pipeline, said it discovered the pipeline had been hacked into on July 15.

It reported it to Essex Police, who went to the site, and they found a hosepipe and a large drum.

Later two vans arrived and police arrested Vainauskas. Three other people are still being hunted in connection with the incident.

Vainauskas was denied bail and the case was transferred to Basildon Crown Court for a hearing in October.