Scam trucker jailed after 22 Afghan refugees found in lorry

A man who posed as a lorry driver for an international haulage company to smuggle[1] 22 people into the UK was jailed today. Polish national Tomasz Cierniak, 32, tried to enter the country with Afghan refugees – one aged seven – hidden behind washing machines[2] and tumble dryers. He was paid 650 Polish Zloty (?135) to take the illegal immigrants[3] – who had no ID – on an overnight journey from Holland to Harwich port in Essex.

Jailing Cierniak for three years and eight months, Judge Emma Peters said the refugees were “in the most squalid of conditions”. She said: “I can see men and women and we now know also that there were children on board, a child of just seven. “The borders of this country must be respected, they should be open to those who are deserving and to those who are entitled.

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The refugees were hidden behind washing machines and tumble dryers

“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[4] , added: “The people who suffer the most were the immigrants on the back of your lorry and now of course your family will suffer too.” Cierniak carried false documents and the white Mercedes lorry had false livery for haulage firm DB Shenker. Judge Peters described a photo taken of the immigrants, including children aged seven, 14, 17 and 17 – was “just an appalling, awful sight”.

Chelmsford Crown Court[5] heard he was stopped by Border Force[6] officers in February last year following a tip-off .

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Where the 22 Afghans hid for their journey

Charlotte Davison, prosecuting, said: “Cargo, namely washing machines, 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 see the people behind.” Cierniak, who has 12 years’ lorry driving experience, failed lie detector tests before fleeing Britain while on police bail.

Officers found he made 16 telephone calls on his mobile phone to the registered owner of the lorry after initially 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 pleaded guilty to one count of assisting unlawful immigration[7] to a member state under the Immigration Act.

References

  1. ^ smuggle (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ washing machines (www.mirror.co.uk)
  3. ^ illegal immigrants (www.mirror.co.uk)
  4. ^ pregnant (www.mirror.co.uk)
  5. ^ Crown Court (www.mirror.co.uk)
  6. ^ Border Force (www.mirror.co.uk)
  7. ^ immigration (www.mirror.co.uk)

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