Accused Ruttley fuel scammer bailed

Man accused of fuel scam against Ruttley Freightlines bailed to face court this month after failing to appear in October

By Samantha Freestone | November 3, 2009

A man accused of involvement in a fuel scam against his former employer, Ruttley Freightlines, has been bailed to face court this month after failing to appear in October.

Robb Morrison is due to face Melbourne Magistrates Court on November 17 charged with 85 counts of theft over his alleged role in using the operator's fuel card to purchase fuel for people who were not employed by Ruttley's.

Morrison was originally meant to face court alongside fellow former employee Peter Howarth on October 8, but claimed he was too sick to appear.

The ruling magistrate dismissed the claim and police issued a warrant for his arrest.

Victoria's Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU) say as many as seven people may be involved in the $1.5 million scam, as investigations continue and officers try and locate three other owner-drivers accused of hiding from the law.

"We have all of the necessary evidence but at this stage can't lock them down. As you understand a lot of them work as interstate truck drivers and as they work for themselves they are hard to locate," Detective Senior Constable Greg Teesdale has previously told ATN.

Howarth has been charged with 85 counts of theft and will face court on January 28 next year after the magistrate adjourned his case. He has pleaded not guilty, while his lawyer says there is a lack of evidence against his client.

Sub-contractor Laurie Jones is charged with 43 counts of theft and had his case adjourned until next year.

Owner-driver Brett Smith will face court on January 7 charged with 47 counts of theft after his matter was adjourned on Monday.

Police allege the scheme ran between July 2008 and May this year.

Ruttley Freightlines has about 130 prime movers and the owner, Bob Ruttley, says his company spends more than $3 million a month on fuel.

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