A people smuggler who rubbed chilli powder around a campervan in an attempt to hide a family from sniffer dogs has been jailed.Two adults and two children were found in a locked compartment when the van was stopped at Harwich port.Driver Skelly Monpierre, 28, of Coleridge Gardens, Lincoln, tried to claim he was unaware of the stowaways.But he was sentenced to five years and eight months for immigration and drug offences. The French national, who was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday, had a co-conspirator, Patricia Ferriera, a 25-year-old from Portugal, who admitted at an earlier hearing to assisting unlawful immigration to the UK but failed to appear at court for sentencing.A warrant has been issued for her arrest.
The campervan was stopped on 21 February 2016 as it disembarked a ferry from the Hook of Holland.After a search, the family was found hiding under a sheet in a cramped compartment with no signs of forced entry.The pair claimed the family must have got in while their vehicle was parked unlocked at a campsite near Rotterdam. But text messages found on Ferreira’s phone suggested pick-up arrangements had been made.
Monpierre was jailed after admitting two counts of possession with intent to supply class A drugs in July but was found guilty by a jury in August of the immigration offence.The family from Iraq were passed to immigration officials and their cases are being dealt with in line with immigration rules.
Source: BBC Lincs