Author: REBECCA PERRING
A STUNNED British family returned home after a 500 mile trip from France to discover an Sudanese immigrant had hitched a lift for four days underneath their £35,000 motorhome.
Lisa Patterson, husband Mick, both 50, and daughter Summer 17, spent two weeks touring France in their luxurious motorhome before they returned home to Colchester in Essex.
But after parking on their driveway, they spotted a young man emerging from the bottom of the motorhome and walking away.
The young immigrant from Sudan later claimed he had spent four days balancing on the top of the 25-foot-long vehicle’s rear axle as it travelled back to the UK.
He had managed to travel undetected, despite the family going through immigration at Port of Dover.
However the young man later insisted he had clung to the underside of the Auto-Trail Arapaho motorhome for four days.
She added: “We had stopped at a supermarket near Port Caen and had something to eat in the car park.
“Suddenly a car drove past and people pointing outside the window at our car and so we suddenly ran round to see what it was.
“When I looked, an immigrant was trying to get inside the van, we managed to pull him out.
“I do not know who he was and he left straight away but it could have been the other immigrants relative or friend.
“We think that was around the time this man got under the motor home.
“When we got to the port we had a little walk, then the next morning moved to a site two hours away.”
The family then boarded the ferry later that day and travelled back to the UK.
They went through immigration at Port of Dover and travelled back to their Essex home and the man went undetected.
She said: “We looked outside and there was a black man walking down the street. We live in the sticks and no-one walks down here. I ran out and called him over.
“He was a really nice person from the English he spoke.”
Realising that he was probably very hungry and thirsty, Mrs Patterson offered the man the popular French drink, Orangina and mini cheddars.
She added: “He said he was from Sudan; I was so shocked. I asked him to show me where he had been and he went back under and showed me, he had been balancing across the back axle.
“I asked how long he had been there and he just lifted up four fingers and mumbled ‘four’.
“I couldn’t believe it. I did feel sorry for him, he was totally lost.”
When she called the police, Mrs Patterson said the man happily waited for them to arrive and didn’t try to escape.
Speaking of her shock that he managed to travel under the vehicle for so long without being spotted, she added: “I can’t believe how we got through border control. There were police standing around but they didn’t pull anyone over.”
A spokesman for the Home Office, which deals with immigration, said: “Immigration Enforcement was contacted by Essex Police. A male who claimed to be from Sudan was arrested for immigration offences.
“He was subsequently age assessed as a minor and passed into the care of social services. His case will be progressed in accordance with immigration rules.”