Kensal Green people smuggler jailed after hiding man in his car
PUBLISHED: 11:44 13 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:44 13 April 2017
A man from Kensal Green who attempted to smuggle an Iranian into the UK in the back of his Mercedes has been jailed for 18 months.
Salah Hekmat, 43, of Harrow Road, claimed he did not know the man hiding under a blanket in the back of his car but was found guilty by a majority verdict on April 6.
Border Force officers at the UK inward tourist controls at the Channel Tunnel in Coquelles, France, stopped a British-registered Mercedes car on June 28 last year, Canterbury Crown Court heard.
They questioned Hekmat who was driving, and while examining the vehicle found a man hidden under a blanket on the rear seat.
The man was identified as an Iranian national and was passed to the French Police Aux Frontieres.
Hekmat was arrested and the case was handed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation officers.
He was later charged with assisting unlawful immigration into the UK.
The court heard Hekmat insisted that he did not know the man had been hiding in his car. He said on his journey to Coquelles he had stopped at roadside services where he used his portable stove to make himself a cup of tea and also used the washing facilities.
He said that the man must have been clever and got into his vehicle.
He was found guilty after the two day trial and immediately sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
David Fairclough, assistant director from the Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigations team, said: “Any attempt to breach the UK’s immigration laws is an extremely serious matter and the consequences are severe.
“The sentence handed out should serve as a warning to anyone tempted to get involved with this kind of criminality. We will catch you, and put you before the courts.
“We will continue to work closely with Border Force colleagues to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration related criminality.”
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.