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Illegal immigrant clinging to axle of fruit lorry dies after fall outside Gomez in Bridge in Canterbury

By Alex Claridge

A desperate illegal immigrant has died after he was crushed by a 35-tonne lorry he had been clinging to the bottom of in Canterbury.

The unidentified victim was killed just outside the premises of fruit importer Gomez in Bridge.

Managing director Jim Parmenter described the death as "very tragic" and believes it is the result of thousands of illegal immigrants boarding trucks entering Kent from the continent.

Gomez headquarters in Coldharbour Lane, Bridge

He said the driver had been bringing peaches and nectarines into the UK from Spain and was unaware two men had clambered underneath the lorry and were clinging to its axle.

It was only as the truck approached the Gomez premises in Coldharbour Lane, near Highland Court Farm, that he learned they were there.

One of the men began banging on the door to say his friend had fallen underneath the truck shortly after 3.30am on Saturday.

Paramedics said the immigrant had been hit by the truck and died of a heart attack.

Mr Parmenter said: "We believe the illegal immigrants had been clinging to the axle of the truck, which had come up from Spain.

"It's obviously very tragic. The lorry hadn't quite reached the yard. The first the driver knew about it was when this man's friend started banging on the cab door.

"Since the French authorities bulldozed the camps at Calais earlier this year, it is happening more. It really is pushing the problem on to us."

Dover chairman Jim Parmenter

Incredibly, just hours later on Saturday a gang of up to eight illegal immigrants stowed away inside a lorry, scattering as soon as it reached the Gomez yard.

Mr Parmenter, who is also chairman of Dover Athletic Football Club, says the number of immigrants is rocketing and fears the UK Border Authority at Dover is ill-equipped to deal with the influx.

"If they get into the truck the load is contaminated and has to be thrown away. This is costing us tens of thousands of pounds a month..." - Gomez boss Jim Parmenter

He said: "It's a big problem. If they get into the truck the load is contaminated and has to be thrown away. This is costing us tens of thousands of pounds a month."

He added most of those who arrive here have stayed at makeshift camps in Calais, some of which were destroyed by French authorities earlier this summer.

"The number of illegal immigrants coming in from Calais is absolutely out of control," he said. "We used to have an incident every three to four months, but in the last month it's soared – it seems to be every few days.

"The UK Border Agency is undermanned for what they have to face. They are swamped down there at Dover. I'm told they apprehend 900 to 1,000 a month but the amount getting through is five or six times that."

Police said they had virtually no information about the incident.

Spokesman Lisa Humphrys said officers did not know the identity of the dead man, what country he was from or the exact location of the incident.

She added the surviving illegal immigrant had been taken hospital, but did not know if he had been spoken to.

The men were arrested as part of an operation targeting suspected illegal working within the construction industry. Stock picture

The Home Office insists it is striving to prevent illegal immigrants entering the UK at Dover and is clamping down on the organised criminals who try to bring them.

Spokesman Sally Henfield said: "Security at the UK border is our priority and we will continue to strengthen it to stop those who have no right to enter the UK.

"We are taking action at a national and international level to tackle this issue and the organised criminality behind illegal immigration.

"We are also working closely and sharing intelligence with other countries to tackle illegal migration, and working with source countries to address the pull factors that drive illegal immigration to our borders.

"If people have a genuine need of protection they should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. If they are just seeking to evade immigration control they need to know that they are risking their lives and that they will get caught."

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