This was the moment two women were found stuffed into a bag hidden in the boot of a car in an attempt to smuggle them into the UK.
A woman has been jailed for people smuggling after a man was also found hiding in the passenger foot well of her car, the Home Office has said.
Officers discovered the stowaways after stopping Wendy Thomas’ car at the UK border controls at the Eurotunnel terminal in Coquelles, France.
Two were unresponsive and had to be rushed to hospital.
The 50-year-old, of Horle Close, Cardiff , who pleaded guilty to one count of assisting illegal immigration, was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison at Blackfriars Crown Court on Thursday.
Releasing the details of the case on Monday, the Home Office said Thomas’ co-conspirators Adriano Bettoja-Allen, 37, and his wife Jeanette, 49, were also sentenced for their parts in two separate “carefully planned” attempts to smuggle people into the UK.
Investigation into the case started after the arrest of Dawood Shahbeik, a British national, at St Pancras International station when he arrived on the Eurostar from Calais on October 2, 2016.
Shahbeik’s mobile phone was found to contain text messages referring to an individual who had been transported to a house in Newport, and a search of his luggage revealed a damaged Iranian passport and a large amount of cash, a Home Office spokeswoman said.
Thomas’ arrest happened a week after Shahbeik’s and text messages on both their phones showed they had been in regular contact with Bettoja-Allen, of Park Square, Newport.
David Fairclough, assistant director from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team, said: “Adriano Bettoja-Allen was revealed by our investigations to be the common link between what initially appeared to be unconnected incidents.
“Our investigations showed that far from being opportunistic attempts to undermine the UK’s border controls, the offences had been carefully planned.
“The fact that two women ended up in hospital demonstrates the dangerous lengths people smugglers will go to.”
The two women were found inside a large black holdall filling the boot of Thomas’ car and covered by pillows and a large soft toy.
The third passenger, a man who later claimed to be an Iranian national and was handed to the French authorities to be removed from the UK control zone, was found hiding underneath two cushions and quilt spread across the car covering the rear foot wells.
cushions and quilt spread across the car covering the rear foot wells.
The CFI team discovered Bettoja-Allen and his wife had travelled through Calais on October 2 having earlier met up with Shahbeik in Dunkirk and that Thomas and Bettoja-Allen had travelled in separate vehicles from Folkestone to Coquelles on the same Eurotunnel train on October 8.
Bettoja-Allen returned to the UK alone the next day less than two hours after Thomas had been stopped by Border Force.
Financial checks also uncovered a large cash deposit into Thomas’ bank account in September 2016.
Jeanette Bettoja-Allen, 49, of Park Square, Newport, from the Philippines, was linked to the Calais incident and was sentenced to 11 months, suspended for two years and 150 hours unpaid work. She was also made subject to a curfew after pleading guilty to assisting illegal immigration three days into her trial, the Home Office said.
Her husband was sentenced to five years in prison after admitting two counts of assisting illegal immigration.
Shahbeik was dealt with at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to 18 months in prison after admitting one count of assisting illegal immigration
Mr Fairclough said the case was a warning for anyone tempted to get involved in people-smuggling.
“We work closely with Border Force colleagues to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration-related criminality,” he said.
“We will catch you, and put you before the courts.”
Thousands bid fare well to Mugabe..
Zimbabwe’s founder Robert Mugabe was honored as an icon, principled leader and African intellectual giant at a state funeral on Saturday, after a week of disputes over his burial threatened to embarrass President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mugabe led Zimbabwe for 37 years, from independence until he was ousted by the army in November 2017, by which time he was viewed by many at home and abroad as a power-obsessed autocrat who unleashed death squads, rigged elections and ruined the economy to keep control.
He died in a Singapore hospital on Sept. 6 aged 95, far away from a country he left polarized by a raging political rivalry between its two largest political parties, ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC.
His remains will be interred in a mausoleum at the National Heroes Acre in the capital Harare in about 30 days, his nephew said on Friday, contradicting earlier comments that a burial would be held on Sunday.
On Saturday, Mnangagwa walked behind the casket carrying Mugabe’s body as it was wheeled into the center of Harare’s National Sports Stadium and placed on a podium decorated with flowers so that heads of state could say their farewells. Senior army generals and Mugabe’s wife and children followed, as a brass band played.
The 60,000 seater stadium was only half-filled.
In a tribute to his predecessor, Mnangagwa said Mugabe stood in defense of Africans. He urged the West to remove sanctions that were imposed during Mugabe’s rule.
“We who remain shall continue to hear his rich, brave, defiant and inspiring voice … encouraging and warning us to be vigilant and astute,” Mnangagwa said in a speech.
“A giant tree of Africa has fallen. Today Africa weeps.”
Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party wanted Mugabe buried at the national shrine to heroes of the 15-year liberation war against white minority rule. But some relatives, expressing bitterness at the way former comrades ousted Mugabe, had pushed for him to be buried in his home village.
Walter Chidhakwa, who spoke on behalf of Mugabe’s family, said Mugabe was an icon who was determined and unflinching in pursuing policies like land reform and later the black economic empowerment program.
Mugabe left behind a country wrecked by hyperinflation, dollarization and deeply entrenched corruption.
But many Zimbabweans also remember Mugabe as their country’s liberator from white minority rule and for broadening people’s access to education and land
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