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.
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