Cornwall

Men jailed after 29 immigrants found in van

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Media captionMen jailed after 29 people found in back of van

Four men have been jailed for their roles in bringing 29 immigrants to the country.

The Vietnamese nationals including 17 children were found in the back of a removal van on the M5 last year. 

They had been seen getting into the back of the van at Newlyn, Cornwall after getting off a 42ft (13m) yacht. 

Frank Walling, Glen Bennett and Jon Ransom were jailed for four-and-a-half years at Truro Crown Court, while Keith Plummer was sentenced to 40 months.

Walling, 72, from Colne, Lancashire, owned the yacht and had sailed it from France with 55-year-old Bennett, from Burnley.

Plummer, 62, from Sheerness, Kent, hired and drove the removal van after travelling to Cornwall in convoy with 63-year-old Ranson, also from Sheerness.

Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Frank Walling (left) and Glen Bennett were jailed for four-and-a-half years at Truro Crown Court

Ransom was found guilty of assisting unlawful immigration after a trial last year, while the other three defendants admitted the same charge.

One of the adults in the van has been deported but 11 others have disappeared, along with at least three children, the court heard.

Judge Robert Longford told the defendants they were "trading in human misery".

He said: "This was a well organised, for-profit operation. In that van, being carted about like freight, were 29 living breathing, desperate human beings whose plight you cared not one jot for."

Image copyright Devon and Cornwall
Image caption Keith Plummer (left) and Jon Ransom were also jailed

The yacht "Johann Sebastian" had sailed from Roscoff in France, and poor weather conditions delayed the journey meaning they arrived during daylight hours and locals contacted the police.

The vessel was described in court as being "dilapidated".

The van was stopped by police near Cullompton, in Devon, later in the morning‬ of 12 April.

Officers lifted the shutters and found 29 people sitting on the floor.

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