Father and son jailed for trying to smuggle immigrants through port
- Credit: Archant
A father and son who tried to smuggle seven illegal immigrants into the UK through Harwich in the back of a van have each been jailed for three years.
Immigration officers discovered the human cargo when the rented van, which was carrying insulation boards and had sailed to Harwich on a Stena ferry from the Hook of Holland, was X-rayed at the port, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
David Wilson, prosecuting, said the four males and three females were Afghan nationals and included a couple with their two teenage sons.
He said the illegal immigrants were found in a 4ft gap between the cargo of insulation boards and the driver's cab and none of them had any official documents.
The rear doors to the van were unlocked when they were opened by immigration officers.
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Mr Wilson said the men initially claimed they were making a legitimate delivery to a Woodbridge company. However the company had no knowledge of the delivery.
Before the court were Erick Isaak, 26, and Sergej Isaak, 49, both of Hattingen, Germany, who admitted doing an act to facilitate the commission of a breach of immigration law by a non EU person in November 2015.
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The court heard that the men, who are German nationals, had jumped bail and were extradited back to the UK in 2019 after a European Arrest Warrant was issued.
Sentencing the men, Judge Rupert Overbury said: "Those who deliberately facilitate the evasion of our country's border controls and seek to bring into the UK foreign nationals of whom they have no prior knowledge substantially risk the security of UK citizens.
"This is because not knowing who or why these foreign nationals seek to enter the UK illegally the risk of facilitating those wanting to harm institutions or citizens is significantly increased.
"Terrorists or foreign criminals could thus get into the UK under the radar of our security services and that's exactly why the sentence for this offence has substantially increased from seven to 14 years."
Criminal and financial investigation officer Adam Hutton said: "It has been a long road from the initial detection to conviction and the Isaaks may have thought they had avoided justice.
"This father and son team viewed the people they were smuggling as a commodity. Their interest in them was purely financial, with no concern about their welfare."
Judge Overbury said the illegal immigrants hadn't been at any particular health risk.
Lucy Sweetland for Sergej Isaak said her client had hired a van to transport his son's belongings from Germany to Holland and had seen an advert looking for someone to transport insulation boards to the UK.
She said her client was told there would be a human cargo and he had "foolishly and naively" agreed to take part for a financial reward of 1000 Euros.
Sam Thomas for Erick Isaak said he was only 22 at the time of the offence and before his extradition he had trained as a nurse.
He said his client accepted he had acted "irresponsibly and unforgivably" and had expressed remorse.