A Manchester man, who gave himself up after seven years on the run from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), has been jailed for four years for his involvement in a £2.5m fuel laundering scam.

Martin Toland, who used the aliases Michael Kelly and Michael Farnan, had been subject to UK and European Arrest warrants on suspicion of fuel laundering offences since January 2006.

He handed himself in and was formally charged in February this year for his part in the fraud which involved the laundering and distribution of more than four million litres of fuel in an eight-month period. Two men from the West Midlands and one from Northern Ireland were previously jailed for a total of 13 and a half years in December 2006.

Zoe Ellerbeck, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “The conclusion of this operation is proof of our determined efforts to disrupt and dismantle the illegal supply of fuel. Criminals who try to evade justice will be apprehended and dealt with through the courts, however long they may have been in hiding.

“Organised crime of this kind has a detrimental and harmful effect on all our communities as well as a damaging impact on our environment. We would urge anyone with information on fuel misuse or suspicious activities in their area to contact our Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 straight away.”

The gang collected rebated oil (red diesel and kerosene) from a licensed distributor and laundered or mixed it before retailing it as duty paid road diesel and ultra low sulphur diesel. The gang were also smuggling, laundering and mixing green diesel from the Republic of Ireland.

In March 2005, HMRC officers executed a number of search warrants in the Midlands. A mixing plant was dismantled and quantities of kerosene and green diesel were seized from rural premises near Lizard Lane, Tong Forge near Telford, Shropshire. At a warehouse in Measham, Swadlincote, Derbyshire, a fully operating oil laundering plant was dismantled and in excess of 34,000 litres of finished product was seized.