Lorry driver jailed for smuggling 21 migrants into Sussex

Andrut Duma jailed for six yearsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Vietnamese nationals, including 11 children, were 'at risk of death'

A lorry driver found with 21 illegal migrants hidden in crates has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Andrut Duma was stopped at the port of Newhaven, East Sussex, with 11 children and 10 adults inside his refrigerated lorry carrying sparkling water.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said they were at risk of death.

The Vietnamese nationals had been packed into wooden crates and taken across the Channel from Dieppe, France, in November.

Guildford Crown Court heard the crates were made from poor quality wood and overloaded with water to the point they were at risk of collapse.

The migrants, the youngest of whom was 12, would have had no way of escape in an emergency, and one told officials they had been travelling in the trailer for seven hours.

'Motivated by greed'

On arrest, Romanian national Duma claimed he had been paid £1,000 to smuggle beer and was not aware he was transporting people.

He pleaded guilty after the CPS proved he had been employed by a professional people-trafficking operation.

Helen Ellwood, of the CPS, said: "Motivated by greed, Andrut Duma showed a callous disregard for the safety of 21 people he was illegally trying to smuggle into the country.

"There is no doubt the traffickers will have charged the group significant sums of money to reach the UK - only to put vulnerable children and young adults at risk of death by packing them tightly into overloaded and shoddily constructed wooden pallets."

She added it was "no amateur operation".

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