Nicholas Fullwood, 48, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, received a jail term of 3 years at Canterbury Crown Court. His wife, who was also involved, was handed a 2-year suspended sentence. A third defendant, 31-year-old Azad Ahmadi, of Allenton, Derby, was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months.
The trio were sentenced for conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, following an investigation by the Home Office’s criminal and financial investigations (CFI) unit.
Minister for Immigration Robert Jenrick said:
We are determined to bring to justice the criminal gangs that undertake the repulsive trade of people-smuggling.
The Home Office is working night and day to dismantle people-smuggling networks and tackle illegal migration head-on.
The Fullwoods were stopped in their Peugeot Boxer van by Border Force officers in the UK control zone in Coquelles, France, on 5 January 2019.
The couple told officers they were making their way back to the UK from picking up furniture in Lille.
On searching the back of the van, officers found 2 male Iraqi migrants in the base of 2 different sofas.
During the course of the investigation, a further suspect was identified as Ahmadi, who was believed to be involved in the organisation of this smuggling attempt alongside the Fullwoods.
Officers connected him to the Fullwoods through phone work and financial transactions.
Nicholas Fullwood pled guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to 3 years. His wife also pled guilty and was sentenced to 2 years, suspended for 2 years.
Ahmadi was found guilty after trial and was jailed for 4 years and 6 months.
Chris Foster, Deputy Director for Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigations, said:
This is another example of immigration enforcement officers doing brilliant work to stop people smugglers from bringing people unlawfully into the country.
Although criminals are continuing to adapt their methods of smuggling people, our teams are adept at flexing their approach to bring them to justice.