Author : Ciaran Jones
A father and daughter tried to drive a hired campervan filled with nine illegal immigrants into the UK.
The pair – who claimed they were returning from a long weekend in the north of France – were caught with eight men and a woman crammed into the vehicle as they came back into Britain through the Channel Tunnel.
Pictures showed how the nine foreign nationals – eight from Albania and one from Turkey – were stowed in the campervan.
Four were concealed in the sleeping area directly above Baden Williams and his daughter Latasha Perry while the other five were hidden in a storage compartment at the rear of the vehicle.
Williams, 47, and Perry, 27, were stopped on May 1 last year by Border Force officers at the UK Control Zone in Coquelles, France, before entering the Channel Tunnel.
Williams was driving the campervan and Perry was his passenger and the pair claimed to be returning from a long weekend in northern France.
When Border Force officers searched the campervan they discovered nine foreign nationals.
The pair were arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal entry into the UK and the investigation was passed to Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team.
The Albanian and Turkish nationals were handed to the French authorities.
Williams and Perry claimed they had no knowledge of the people hidden within their vehicle and claimed the van had been left unlocked for a short time in Lillers.
Williams, of High Street, Pentwynmawr, near Newbridge, and Perry, of Farm Close, Oakdale, Caerphilly, have now been jailed after they were both found guilty of facilitating illegal immigration at Canterbury Crown Court.
Williams was sentenced to five years and six months in jail and Perry received a sentence of four years.
Assistant director David Fairclough, from the CFI team, said: “Williams and Perry took a very ill-advised decision when they chose to involve themselves in immigration crime of this nature. A reckless gamble has ended with criminal convictions for both.
“My officers specialise in tackling abuses of immigration laws and this case demonstrates their thorough investigative work as well as the vigilance of Border Force in making the initial detection.
“Anyone thinking of doing the same should take this case as a warning. We will catch you and we will ensure that justice is served.”
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Paul Morgan, director of Border Force south east and Europe, said: “Border Force works in close partnership with other UK and French law enforcement agencies to secure the border in northern France, the result of which is that it is one of the most secure in Europe.
“We will continue to work to ensure that people smugglers and traffickers, whose actions so often endanger others, face the full consequences of their crimes.”