Published: 17:30, 26 July 2018
| Updated: 17:42, 26 July 2018
A trucker tried to smuggle three people, including a two-year-old child, in the bunks of his cab.
Tony Huggins was jailed for three-and-a-half years today.
Huggins had been stopped at the freight controls at Dover Eastern Docks on September 22, 2016.
Border Force officers questioned Huggins, who said who had taken one trailer out to France on September 20.
He said that day he had picked up a return trailer laden with beer for delivery in the UK.
Officers searched the vehicle and in the cab found a teenage boy concealed in the lower bunk area immediately behind the driver’s seat.
A woman and the child were found on the top bunk.
Huggins, a British national using an Irish-registered lorry, was arrested and the case was passed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation officers.
During subsequent questioning Huggins denied all knowledge of the illegal migrants in his cab.
He claimed they must have entered the vehicle while it was on board the ferry.
Huggins also maintained his “trailer swap” story even when it was pointed out that spending two days waiting in lorry parks in the Calais made no economic sense.
This was considering the large number of ferry crossings every day to Dover.
Huggins, 56, of Hubert Road, Rainham, Havering, east London, had been found guilty today, after a trial at Canterbury Crown Court.
He had been specifically charged with assisting unlawful immigration into the UK.
The three illegal migrants, all claimed to be from Albania, were passed to immigration officials for their cases to be considered in line with immigration rules.
Acting Assistant Director Stuart Stokes, from CFI, said after the case:“Huggins’ defence that he was unaware of three people hidden barely 30cm behind the driver’s seat of his cab failed to convince the jury.
"The truth is that this was a premeditated, if unsophisticated, attempt to breach the UK’s border controls.
“I hope Huggins’s conviction sends a clear message to anyone tempted to get involved with this kind of criminality – you will be caught and brought before the courts.
“We work closely with Border Force colleagues to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration related criminality.”
“I hope Huggins’s conviction sends a clear message to anyone tempted to get involved with this kind of criminality – you will be caught and brought before the courts" - Stuart Stokes
David Smith, deputy director of Border Force South East and Europe said after the case: “We will continue to work to ensure that people smugglers and traffickers, whose actions so often put the lives of others at risk, face the full consequences of their crimes.”
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit the website crimestoppers-uk.org.