CCTV from three service stations helped to convict an NHS blood donor carer who has been jailed after he used the service’s ‘mobile surgeries’ as a front to steal almost £60,000 in fuel.
Terence Jones, from Eddis Road in Kitts Green, pretended to be refuelling donor vans at three petrol stations in Sutton Coldfield but secretly filled up large drums hidden inside the vehicles.
It is calculated he made 473 forecourt thefts between June 2013 and last November making off with 44,211 litres of diesel worth £59,827.
Fleet bosses reported suspicious transactions on NHS fuel cards to West Midlands Police after repeatedly finding their four vehicles – two minibuses and two ‘box’ vans – on empty at the start of the week despite £100s being spent on fuel over the weekend.
Detectives examined CCTV footage from three service stations – Four Oaks Shell in Mere Green, Esso in Whitehouse Common Road, and Murco in Coleshill Road – that exposed the 49-year-old’s scam.
And when police arrested him at his home address last December they recovered 31 25-litre containers and receipts for the stolen fuel dotted around the house.
He admitted fraud by abuse of position and at Birmingham Crown Court was jailed for 32 months.
Jones claimed the diesel was for personal use – to fuel his mobile caravan on holiday trips – and that he hadn’t sold any for financial gain. However, officers found the van off the road and with no gearbox.
Investigating officer PC Alan Reeves, said: “Jones was employed as a ‘Donor Carer’ – a role that supports people when giving blood – but his responsibility also included driving the vehicles to and from blood donor sessions.
“Colleagues believed him to be one of the most dedicated staff members as he regularly volunteered to work at weekends to clean, maintain and re-fuel the vehicles…but in reality it was in order for him to abuse the fuel card system.
“This was a prolonged and calculated fraud that deprived the health service of much needed funds.”
It’s believed Jones visited the petrol stations every Saturday and Sunday over the 17-month period and often paid for 100-litres of fuel – using four containers at a time – despite the minibus tanks capacity being only 73 litres.
When West Midlands Officers arrested him on 16 December he blurted out “Yes, I know, I’m going to plead guilty…I did steal the diesel” before pointing to 23 drums in his kitchen and revealing another eight in his Ford Focus.
Arresting officers reported an “overpowering” smell of diesel throughout his home.
A spokesperson from NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Our counter fraud team investigated suspicions of possible fuel theft by one of our donor care staff and referred the matter to West Midlands Police. We also carried out an internal investigation and dismissed the individual in line with our policies.
“There is no evidence to suggest that anyone else was involved and we have put more robust processes in place to make sure similar incidents don’t happen again in future.
“I would like to reassure people that at no point was there any impact on blood donation services or any risk to patients receiving blood.”
A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) enquiry will now be launched by West Midlands Police to seize cash or assets from Jones that can be linked to the fraud – with the money being put back into the public purse.