People smuggling Polish lorry driver sentenced for attempting to smuggle Afghan refugees to Essex

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A man who posed as a lorry driver for an international haulage company to smuggle 22 people including a seven-year-old child into the UK has been jailed for three years and eight months. Polish national Tomasz Cierniak, 32, was stopped moments after entering the country with the Afghan refugees crammed behind washing machines and tumble dryers. He was paid 650 Polish Z?oty (?135) for driving the Afghan refugees immigrants – none of whom had any identification – on an overnight journey from Holland to Harwich port[2].

Cierniak was said to have been the driver of the lorry on a “dry run” a week before by Border Force officers. Sentencing him at Chelmsford Crown Court[3] today (July 13), Judge Emma Peters said: “In the back of the lorry you had 22 people on board. READ MORE: Lorry driver admits trying to smuggle 22 Afghan refugees into UK[4]

“I can see from the photographs taken when the Border Agency first managed to move washing machines away, those people in the most squalid of conditions.
“I can see men and women and we now know also that there were children on board, a child of just seven. “I accept you didn’t know there was a child on board but you hadn’t caused yourself to know anything about the people there, merely that there were human beings on the back of your lorry for a sustained period of time left there on an overnight crossing.

“The borders of this country must be respected, they should be open to those who are deserving and to those who are entitled but they should not be breached by people like you who are seeking to make money out of misery and desperation.”
The judge, referring to Cierniak’s claims he needed money as his wife was nine-months-pregnant, said: “The people who suffer the most were the immigrants on the back of your lorry and now of course your family will suffer too.”

Charlotte Davison, prosecuting at Chelmsford[5] Crown Court, said Cierniak carried false documents and the white Mercedes lorry had false livery for DB Shenker. She said: “Your Honour will see that there were cargo, namely washing machines that had been stacked three high and four wide covering almost the entirety of the back of the lorry.
“They had to move the items our in order to seethe people behind.”

Judge Emma Peters said a photo taken of the immigrants – which included children aged seven, 14, 17 and 17 – was “just an appalling, awful site”. READ MORE: A pensioner has died after being bitten by a Staffie near Clacton[6] She described the false livery on the truck was used as a “cloak of respectability” after the prosecutor said international haulage company DB Shenker confirmed it was not genuine branding.

Border Force officers stopped him after being tipped off that he was arriving from Hook of Holland to Harwich port on an overnight Stena Line ferry by Danish authorities on February 1 last year. The prosecutor said: “A dog that was being used there indicated that there might have been people present in the lorry but as the ferry was due to depart it was allowed to continue on its journey but the authorities were duly notified.” READ MORE: This devastating footage is being used to stop drivers texting[7]

The court heard Cierniak, who had 12 years of experience as an international driver and no criminal record in the UK or Poland, failed lie detector tests and fled the country after missing police bail. Officers found he had made 16 telephone calls on his mobile phone to the registered owner of the lorry after saying he did not know her. He was arrested in Italy and appeared at a magistrates court in June after being extradited under a European Arrest Warrant.

Cierniak’s sentence was reduced after he pleaded guilty to one count of assisting unlawful immigration to a member state under the Immigration Act.


  1. ^ Comments (0) (
  2. ^ Harwich port (
  3. ^ Chelmsford Crown Court (
  4. ^ Lorry driver admits trying to smuggle 22 Afghan refugees into UK (
  5. ^ Chelmsford (
  6. ^ A pensioner has died after being bitten by a Staffie near Clacton (
  7. ^ Link to full article (

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