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Woman who tried to smuggle family through Harwich Port in campervan is jailed

PUBLISHED: 21:29 05 October 2018 | UPDATED: 21:29 05 October 2018

Patricia Ferreira, who was jailed for two and a half years at Chelmsford Crown Court Picture: HOME OFFICE

Patricia Ferreira, who was jailed for two and a half years at Chelmsford Crown Court Picture: HOME OFFICE

Archant

A people smuggler who went on the run after attempting to take an Iraqi family through Harwich International Port in a hired campervan has been jailed.

The campervan used in the attempt to smuggle the Iraqi family through Harwich Picture: HOME OFFICEThe campervan used in the attempt to smuggle the Iraqi family through Harwich Picture: HOME OFFICE

Patricia Ferreira was extradited from Germany on August 7 following her arrest in the country on June 19 under a European Arrest Warrant.

She had previously admitted the people smuggling charge but failed to appear at court for sentencing in November last year and went on the run.

The charges related to an incident in February, 2016, when Ferreira – a Portuguese national – and co-conspirator Skelly Monpierre tried to smuggle an Iraqi family through the Essex port in a hired campervan.

The family were hiding inside a locked rear luggage compartment and chilli powder had been sprinkled around the vehicle in an effort to put off sniffer dogs.

The luggage compartment Picture: HOME OFFICEThe luggage compartment Picture: HOME OFFICE

Border Force officers had stopped the pair after they disembarked a ferry from the Hook of Holland.

After the smuggling attempt was discovered, Ferreira and Monpierre, a French national, were arrested on suspicion of assisting unlawful immigration and the investigation was passed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation officers.

Text messages found on Ferreira’s phone suggested arrangements for the pick-up and payments for the crime had been made in advance of the trip.

Following her extradition, Ferreira, of no fixed address in the UK, was sentenced to two and a half years in jail at Chelmsford Crown Court today.

The chilli powder used to throw off sniffer dogs Picture: HOME OFFICEThe chilli powder used to throw off sniffer dogs Picture: HOME OFFICE

Monpierre, of Coleridge Gardens, Lincoln, was jailed for three years last November after he was found guilty following a four-day trial.

Stuart Cooper, from the Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation team, said: “Ferreira may have thought she could avoid her sentence, but as this case demonstrates we never stop looking.

“My officers are determined investigators and our work with international partners means we have a very long reach when it comes to those who try to evade justice.

“The people smuggling offence in this case was driven by profit and, as demonstrated by attempts to prevent sniffer dogs from finding the family, was planned and premeditated.

The chilli powder used Picture: HOME OFFICEThe chilli powder used Picture: HOME OFFICE

“There is no excuse for those who are prepared to abuse our immigration laws and this case should serve as a warning that we will catch you and make sure you face justice.”

Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 anonymously or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org

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