Man jailed for three years after smuggling Iraqi family into Harwich in back of camper van
- Credit: Archant
A man has been jailed for three years after attempting to smuggle an Iraqi family into the UK through Harwich International Port.
Skelly Monpierre, 28, a french national from Coleridge Gardens in Lincoln, was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday for assisting illegal immigration.
A warrant for arrest has been issued for his co-conspirator, Patricia Ferreira, 25, who failed to appear at court.
Officers from the UK Border Force stopped the pair in a hired camper van at Harwich on February 21 last year after they got off a ferry from the Hook of Holland.
Inspecting the vehicle, an officer opened a locked rear luggage compartment and found four people, a couple and two young children, crammed inside hiding under a sheet.
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Monpierre and Ferreira were arrested and the investigation was passed to officers from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation Team.
The pair first denied the charges, claiming that the family had got into their vehicle without them knowing while they were parked at a campsite near Rotterdam.
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However there were no signs of a break-in and text messages discovered on Ferriera’s phone suggested arrangements had been made to pickup the family in advance of the trip.
Ferriera later admitted the charges while Monpierre was found guilty on August 7 following a four-day trial.
Stuart Cooper from the Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation team, said: “This was a deliberate and concerted attempt to evade the UK’s immigration controls.
“Monpierre and Ferreira had gone to great lengths to conceal their human cargo, even rubbing chilli powder around the edges of the luggage compartment in an effort to conceal the scent from sniffer dogs.
“There is no excuse for those who are prepared to abuse our immigration laws for personal gain and this case should serve as a warning to others involved in this kind of criminality. We will catch you and put you before the courts.”
The family from Iraq were passed to immigration officials
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Patricia Ferreira, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.