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Rainham people smuggler jailed for three years after being caught with a two-year-old child and two others hidden in lorry

PUBLISHED: 17:15 26 July 2018

Tony Huggins, of Hubert Road, Rainham, was sentenced to three years for assisting unlawful immigration. Photo: Home Office

Tony Huggins, of Hubert Road, Rainham, was sentenced to three years for assisting unlawful immigration. Photo: Home Office

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A Rainham man who attempted to smuggle three people – including a two-year-old child – into the UK illegally has been jailed for three and a half years today (Thursday, July 26).

The hidden area behind Huggins' driver's seat where one of the illegal immigrants was found. Photo: Home OfficeThe hidden area behind Huggins' driver's seat where one of the illegal immigrants was found. Photo: Home Office

At around 6pm on Thursday, September 22, 2016, Border Force officers at the inward freight controls at Dover’s Eastern Docks stopped an Irish-registered lorry.

They questioned the driver, Tony Huggins, of Hubert Drive, who said he had taken one trailer out to France on September 20 and on the same day had picked up a return trailer laden with beer for delivery in the UK.

Officers searched the vehicle and in the cab found a teenage boy concealed in the lower bunk area immediately behind the driver’s seat.

A woman and the child were found on the top bunk.

Huggins, a British national, was arrested and the case passed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) officers.

During subsequent questioning Huggins denied all knowledge of the illegal migrants found in the cab. He claimed they must have entered the vehicle while it was on board the ferry.

Huggins also maintained his “trailer swap” story even when it was pointed out that spending two days waiting in lorry parks in the Calais made no economic sense given the large number of ferry crossings every day between Calais and Dover.

Huggins was found guilty by a jury after a trial at Canterbury Crown Court and was sentenced at the same court immediately.

Acting Assistant Director Stuart Stokes, from CFI, said: “Huggins’ defence that he was unaware of the presence of three people hidden barely 30cm behind the driver’s seat of his cab failed to convince the jury.

“The truth is that this was a premeditated, if unsophisticated, attempt to breach the UK’s border controls.

“I hope Huggins’s conviction sends a clear message to anyone tempted to get involved with this kind of criminality – you will be caught and brought before the courts.

“We work closely with Border Force colleagues to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration related criminality.”

The three illegal migrants found in the vehicle, who all claimed to be from Albania, were passed to immigration officials for their cases to be considered in line with immigration rules.

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