Revealed: Inside the cramped lorry where 22 Afghan migrants including five children were smuggled into Britain as the truck driver responsible faces jail

  • Tomasz Cierniak admitted smuggling 22 people on the six-hour ferry crossing
  • Border Force agents in Harwich discovered the people hiding in his truck
  • Cierniak hid the refguees – including five children – behind washing machines
  • He will be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court in Essex on Thursday

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These pictures show the inside of a lorry in which 22 people, including five children, were smuggled into the UK by a truck driver.

Tomasz Cierniak, 32, was stopped moments after entering the country with the Afghan refugees[2] crammed behind washing machines and tumble dryers.

The Polish national told Border Force officers he was carrying electronic goods but when the lorry’s rear doors were opened, the people were found inside.

The 22 Afghan nationals were hidden in this space behind a load of washing machines by Polish truck driver Tomasz Cierniak who tried to smuggle them into the UK in February 2016

The 22 Afghan nationals were hidden in this space behind a load of washing machines by Polish truck driver Tomasz Cierniak who tried to smuggle them into the UK in February 2016

Cierniak attempted to hide the refugees in front of these washing machines on his truck

Cierniak attempted to hide the refugees in front of these washing machines on his truck

They were transported in a purposely created gap between the heavily loaded rear and the front of the trailer.

Cierniak was arrested on suspicion of facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration laws at Harwich port in Essex after arriving on a ferry from the Hook of Holland on February 2, 2016.

The investigation was passed to Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) Team.

During the investigation, it emerged that the lorry Cierniak was driving had been branded in the livery of a multi-national haulage company but that business confirmed to investigators that the vehicle had never been owned by them.

Checks also showed that the company Cierniak was supposedly delivering the goods to has no dealings with the business he said he worked for.

Following his initial arrest, Cierniak was bailed pending further investigation, but failed to report as required to Colchester Police Station.

CFI officers obtained a European Arrest Warrant and on May 23, 2017, Cierniak was arrested by police officers in Italy.

He was extradited to the UK and remanded in custody.

Cierniak, of no fixed UK address, admitted the offence at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday.

He will be sentenced on Thursday.

The Polish national smuggled the Afghan refugees into Harwich port in Essex, pictured

The Polish national smuggled the Afghan refugees into Harwich port in Essex, pictured

Cierniak will be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court, pictured, on Thursday

Cierniak will be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court, pictured, on Thursday

Speaking after Cierniak’s guilty plea, Rebecca Webb, from the Immigration Enforcement CFI team, said: ‘The dangers of cramming this group into a small space behind a wall of heavy goods during a six-hour ferry crossing are obvious, but Cierniak was content to put the lives of 22 desperate people at risk.

‘People smuggling is a callous trade and those involved think nothing of treating human beings as commodities.

‘Cierniak thought he could evade justice, but we, along with our law enforcement partners in Europe, never stopped looking.

‘As this case demonstrates, we work closely with Border Force and other criminal enforcement agencies both in the UK and abroad.

Our net is wide and the message to anyone involved in immigration criminality is clear – we will catch you and bring you before the courts.’

Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously.

References

  1. ^ e-mail (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  2. ^ refugees (www.dailymail.co.uk)

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