Published: 16:25, 31 August 2017 |
Updated: 16:41, 31 August 2017
A child was among five people hiding in cabinets inside a van stopped by border police at the Channel Tunnel entering Kent.
The man driving the van has now been sent to prison after a trial finished this week.
Huzaifa Hasan Musa, 22, from Scunthorpe, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after telling "a pack of lies" about his intentions.
His cargo, five people including a child from Iraq, were crammed into cabinets inside the van.
Canterbury Crown Court was told the van was stopped by officers from the Border Force on February 14, last year, at the border control point in Coquelles, France.
Officers searched the van which was filled with furniture.
A woman and child were found in one cabinet and three men in another.
The five migrants were passed to the French Police Aux Frontieres and Musa, of Mary Street, Scunthorpe, was arrested at the scene.
Detectives from the Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation team found Musa's mobile phone had a string of suspicious messages including one he sent saying he would get paid after making it through the tunnel.
He claimed he had been to visit his step grandmother near Dunkirk, in France, but could not tell them the address.
He also said he had taken her furniture because she intended to throw it away.
But during a later interview, his story changed to say he had taken the furniture with him when he left for his trip.
He was found guilty of assisting unlawful immigration into the UK.
Paul Morgan, director of Border Force South East and Europe, said: "Musa expressed surprise when the five people were found, but they had been quite deliberately hidden. They could not have got there by themselves.
"People smugglers like Musa exploit the vulnerable and put lives at risk.
"Border Force targets its resources on prevention, protection and prosecution activity, working in close partnership with other law enforcement agencies, to prosecute those involved in this criminal trade."
David Fairclough, assistant director at the Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team, added: "Our officers built a compelling case to prove that Musa’s story was a pack of lies.
"He claimed the purpose of his visit was to visit family, when in reality he was engaged in people smuggling in order to line his own pockets and with no thought for the safety of those he was transporting.
"I hope this case serves as a clear warning that those who try to the UK’s break immigration laws will be brought to justice.”
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit the website.
From academic achievements to engineering accolades and new facilities, Kent College offers students an outstanding school life.
Enter this month’s competition and you could win a luxurious return crossing!Sponsored editorial
There's no uniform or bells and students and staff are on first name terms. School life at Rochester Independent College is unique.
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.
Your No1 guide to getting married in Kent. From dresses to discos and venues to veils, we've got everything you could possibly need for your big day
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating!
PLUS, register for free!.
Read our pick of the best holiday destinations. Whether its a weekend break, or something a little bit longer, we have reviewed a wide range of holidays.