Kent

Ex-soldier jailed over Calais Jungle smuggling ring

Kyle Harris Image copyright Home Office
Image caption Kyle Harris went into a "downward spiral" after serving with the British Army in Helmand, the court was told

Three men, including a former soldier, have been jailed for their part in a people smuggling conspiracy.

L/Cpl Kyle Harris, 30, from Epsom in Surrey, admitted smuggling Kurdish migrants to the UK from camps at Calais in the back of his car in May 2016.

Zinden Ahmed, 36, from Middlesbrough, and Hadi Ali Hassan, 35, from Manchester also pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court.

Harris was dishonourably discharged from the British Army.

The conspiracy was foiled by a UK immigration officer who was "acting on a hunch" when he stopped Harris's car close to the entrance to the Channel Tunnel, the court was told.

Harris had served in the Army for six years and after being posted in Helmand - during which time he watched his best friend die following an explosion - he went into a "downward spiral", his defence counsel, Isobelle Gillard told the court.

He was jailed for three years for his part in the people smuggling ring, having pleaded guilty in August. He also received a one-year sentence for money laundering, to run concurrently.

Sentencing Harris, Judge Adele Williams said she had given him credit for his early guilty plea and that her sentencing took account of the fact that he had served his country.

Image copyright Gareth Fuller/PA
Image caption Car wash owner Zinden Ahmed was also sentenced for possession of a class A drug with intent to supply

Ahmed of Brompton Street, Middlesbrough, was jailed for six years and eight months for conspiracy to smuggle people and three years and four months for possession of a class A drug with intent to supply, to run consecutively.

Hassan of Regency Close in Manchester was jailed for two years and eight months after admitting conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

The jury was told Ahmed had recruited Harris, offering him £5,000 per person to bring migrants back to the UK, during weekend breaks from his base in Paderborn, Germany.

The case against L/Cpl David Plumstead was dismissed during the trial in October, with the prosecution offering no evidence.

Related Internet links

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