Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Fugitive Charles Lynch jailed for migrant smuggle bid

Charles Lynch Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Prosecutors said Charles Lynch was "a dedicated and resourceful criminal"

A fugitive who used multiple aliases during 27 years on the run has been jailed for trying to smuggle eight Albanian migrants into the UK.

Charles Lynch, 64, was stopped onboard a motor cruiser off the coast of West Sussex in November.

Border Force officials found five men, two women and a child on the vessel and escorted it into Portsmouth.

Lynch was jailed for three years and eight months after admitting facilitating illegal immigration.

He had also admitted two counts of possessing a false identification document.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Lynch, of no fixed address, had 93 previous convictions and had absconded from Maidstone Prison one year into a seven-year sentence for theft, fraud and forgery in 1992.

He went on to commit multiple crimes across Europe under bogus identities - including being jailed in France in 2011 for possessing an indecent image of a child.

Paul Douglass, prosecuting, described Lynch as "a dedicated and resourceful criminal".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBorder Force officers intercepted the motor cruiser in the channel

The court was told his vessel was spotted by Border Force officers in November four miles off Littlehampton on a 46ft (14m) motor cruiser, which was operated by a company he worked for providing trips for corporate clients.

Lynch told officers he was a German called Wolfram Steidl and he had no intention of bringing the Albanians, who were wearing uniforms, into the UK.

He claimed he was part of a legitimate business providing navigation training.

But officers found false documents in his possession, including a Danish driving licence and Romanian ID card.

Judge David Melville QC said Lynch had "exploited" the Albanians, and told him he would also have to serve the remainder of the original sentence he was given in the 1990s.

"You are a resourceful, experienced and professional criminal," he added.

The National Crime Agency said Lynch had used more than 40 aliases over the past 27 years.

Andy Vidamour, senior officer at the Border Force, said Lynch had "worked very hard on his back story" but it was clear that "something was amiss" when officers boarded the boat.

"There were no navigational tools onboard and he didn't have any qualifications to be leading this kind of training," he added.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites