Former RAF Marham contractor admits stealing waste aviation fuel from Tornado fleet

The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane.
The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane.

A former contractor told police he had been taking waste aviation fuel from the RAF Marham Tornado fleet for two years before he was caught, magistrates heard today.

Steve Coakley, 42, was given a 12 month community order, with 50 hours’ unpaid work, after pleading guilty to a single charge of theft by employee when he appeared in court in Lynn.

The bench was told CCTV had been installed at the base following an anonymous tipoff to the RAF Police.

Josephine Jones, prosecuting, said several vehicles, including a Volkswagen van belonging to Coakley, were subsequently seen being filled with the fuel, which would otherwise have been taken away by a contractor paid by the base.

Coakley, of Spooner Row, Wymondham, was also found to have four cans of the fuel in the vehicle.

A subsequent search of his home revealed that a lorry and a car used by his now former partner had also been filled with the fuel. A 500 litre storage container was also found.

The case was initially adjourned earlier this month, as the other defendants involved had merely received cautions.

However, Miss Jones said it was deemed inappropriate to do the same in Coakley’s case, because of the volume of fuel involved.

She added that, although the charge Coakley pleaded guilty to only related to a period between September and November of last year, he had disclosed to police that he had been taking the fuel for “the past couple of years.”

Ruth Johnson, mitigating, said Coakley had only taken the fuel “on and off” over that period, but acklnowledged there would have been a degree of planning to the offending.

She said he claimed he had only benefited by around £660 from the fuel, but had paid out around £4,500 to HMRC for tax avoidance, including the estimated value of the lorry which he signed over to them.

She added: “That is something he has to bear for his wrongdoing and he fully accepts that.”

The court was also told he is currently not working and is living off the income he receives from some rental properties.

As well as the community order, Coakley was told to pay £85 costs, plus an £85 victim surcharge.