Published: 10:29, 17 June 2020
| Updated: 10:35, 17 June 2020
A man who tried to smuggle two people into the UK hidden in a 'coffin-like hideaway' has been jailed.
Stefan-Gabriel Bucur, 20, concealed two men under the floorboards of his flatbed truck where they were discovered when the vehicle arrived on a ferry into Dover.
pleaded guilty to a charge of facilitating illegal entry into the UK when he appeared for a pre-trial hearing at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday, June 12. He was sentenced immediately to 30 months in prison.
The Romanian national had been stopped by Border Force officers at Eastern Docks’ inbound tourist controls at around 9.15pm on February, 7.
When officers conducted an external search of the vehicle they spotted additional metal supporting strips running along the underside of the flatbed.
Further examination identified that a cavity had been created beneath the truck’s floorboards in which two Albanian men had been hidden.
Border Force Deputy Director Martin Coates said: “The men had been bolted into the cavity in what was a coffin like hideaway.
"It took officers more than 20 minutes to remove the bolts and get the boards lifted.
“Fortunately the men were in good health when we recovered them, but the risk to life of such a concealment – the men were effectively trapped, with no means of independent escape – are plain.
“We will continue to work with law enforcement partners to bring people smugglers like Bucur to justice.”
Officers said Bucur appeared nervous as officers worked to release the men. When officers searched the cab of his vehicle they found drawings with measurements matching the concealment dimensions on the van.
Bucur, of no fixed UK address, was arrested and the case passed to Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team.
Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp said: “For criminals like Bucur, the people they are smuggling are little more than a commodity whose value is assessed solely in financial terms.He clearly gave no consideration to the safety of the men he was transporting.
“I hope his conviction sends a clear message that those who engage in this kind of offending will be caught and prosecuted.”
The Albanian men are being dealt with in line with the immigration rules.
Anyone with information about suspected border crime can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org
More by this authorBeth Robson
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