Published: 06:00, 12 September 2019
A bus driver who fell into poverty tried keeping his family afloat - by smuggling Albanians into Kent for £2,000.
Trafficker David James’ father could be seen holding his head in his hands, appearing incredulous, when the relatively paltry sum was disclosed in court.
Judge Rupert Lowe jailed the 31-year-old to 16 months, for what he described as a “most unwise decision.”
He said: “You will know as everybody else the seriousness at which illegal immigration is regarded both socially and politically at this time.
“You are a 31-year-old man of previous good character and you were in financial difficulties where there was a problem balancing income and outgoings.
“You were given the chance to commit a very obvious crime against UK immigration law for the sum of £2,000 and you agreed taking a risk, with vehicles rolling on and rolling off as they do, hoping that you would not be caught.
“You were stopped, your boot was opened and there were two Albanian men.”
The judge added the “most unwise decision” had become a tragedy for James, his partner and her two children, and his parents who sat in the public gallery.
Prosecutor Caroline Knight told Canterbury Crown Court James told Border Force officers he had been visiting friends in France when stopped at the Coquelle terminal on the afternoon of June 20 this year.
Mitigating, James’ barrister argued the crime was unsophisticated and her client had fallen into “financial difficulties.”
“This was a silly mistake and he is very sorry,” she told Judge Lowe.
The court heard James was offered the money “by a friend” and the immigrants were discovered laying down in his boot.
James, of Mitcham in Greater London, was convicted of facilitating the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person.