Stowaway found in France on day trip coach from Norfolk

Image caption,
The 48 passengers were delayed by four hours after the finds

A coach full of Norfolk day trippers to Belgium was pulled over by customs officers after a stowaway and illegal tobacco were found onboard the vehicle.

Forty-eight passengers on the Chenery Travel coach which was stopped at the Eurotunnel at Coquelles, in France.

The Home Office confirmed UK Border Agency officials doing routine checks there found a Sudanese man onboard.

The coach firm said no-one knew the man, found after 150kg of illegal tobacco was uncovered, was there.

Three passengers, two men and a woman, were questioned and then released over the tobacco but the driver refused to take them back on board the coach and left them at Folkestone, the company said.

The £39 day trip from Norwich to De Panne in Belgium left Norwich at 0500 BST on Tuesday and arrived back at 0130 BST on Wednesday.

The excursion stops at shops in Adinkerke, nicknamed Tobacco Road, and Euro City, a shopping centre in Calais.

A spokesman for Chenery Travel, based in Dickleburgh in Norfolk, said the incident was "very rare" but stowaways had been found on the company's coaches in the past.

He said: "We make this day trip twice a month and this is the first time this year anyone has been found stowed away on board one of our coaches.

"No-one had any idea he was there. After the tobacco was found, officials stripped out the coach, lifted up one of the seats and saw a pair of white trainers."

When asked about the illegal tobacco haul worth £12,000 Chenery Travel said it had been concealed in wine boxes and had not been been loaded by the driver.

The company informs passengers in writing of how much tobacco and alcohol they are allowed to bring back to the UK.

BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Wally Webb was one of the passengers on board the coach at the time.

He said: "We were delayed by four hours.

"There were a quite a few unhappy passengers on board. It was the day trip from hell."

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