Kent

Hidden compartment people smuggler jailed

Liviu Borobeica Image copyright Border Force
Image caption Liviu Borobeica was sentenced to four and a half years in a young offenders institution.

A Romanian man has been sentenced for smuggling seven people in a secret compartment in a van which was stopped at Dover docks.

Liviu Borobeica, 20, was stopped by Border Force officers after crossing the English Channel on 16 March.

Officers found seven people, including two children, hidden behind a false bulkhead behind the rear seats.

Borobeica was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court to four and a half years in a young offenders institution.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of assisting unlawful immigration to the UK.

Image copyright Border Force
Image caption Seven people, including two children, were found in the hidden compartment

Officers also found four people in the rear seats and one in the front passenger seat of his Mercedes Sprinter van.

Paul Morgan, director of Border Force South East and Europe, said: "The van had been adapted for the sole purpose of smuggling. There was no way for the people hidden inside the partition to get in or out without outside assistance.

"The rear seats, which were bolted down, had to be removed before access to the hide could be gained. It was a sophisticated concealment."

Image copyright Border Force
Image caption The rear seats had to be removed in order to free the seven people

The cases of the seven people found in the compartment in the van, who all claimed to be from Afghanistan, are being dealt with by immigration officials, the Border Force said.

David Fairclough, acting deputy director of the Border Force's immigration enforcement team, said: "No consideration had been given to the safety of the seven people hidden inside the cramped partition.

"If there had been any kind of accident there was no way for them to escape."

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