Two men guilty of smuggling illegal immigrants in container at Tilbury Docks

16/06/2016

Two men have been found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry into the UK, after the discovery of 35 people in a shipping container at Tilbury Docks, Essex, in August 2014.

Stephen McLaughlin and Martin McGlinchey denied attempting to smuggle the group, which included 15 children, in to the country. One male member of the group died inside the container.

Mr McLaughlin was today sentenced to eight years' imprisonment and Mr McGlinchey was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment. A third man, Taha Sharif, was found guilty of the same offence following a trial last year and is due to be sentenced on 23 June 2016.

Head of the Complex Casework Unit for East of England CPS, Paul Scothern, said: "The horrific conditions these people suffered should not be experienced by anyone, let alone 15 children. They paid these criminals huge amounts of money on the promise of a better life, but were instead put in a situation that stripped them of their basic human rights.

"The CPS is committed to prosecuting traffickers wherever possible to stop them putting people through inhumane conditions such as this."

Basildon Crown Court heard how these two were part of a syndicate which had also been foiled just 11 days before, when 12 Afghan nationals were found sealed inside a lorry at a terminal in Coquelles, France.

Mr Scothern said: "This was a professional operation and each person played a vital role in the running of this conspiracy. Mr Mclaughlin and Mr McGlinchey were in regular contact to ensure the operation went smoothly."

The immigrants were found in the early hours of the morning, the court was told, when dock workers at the Essex port heard knocking and shouting coming from inside.

Inside the container, there were 26 x 1000 litre plastic bowsers of liquid; they occupied the whole floor surface. The immigrants were on top of these bowsers; some of them appeared to be experiencing breathing difficulties, having been locked within the container all night.

One man, Meet Singh Kapoor who had been travelling with his wife and two children, was found to have died during the crossing.

East of England CPS considered whether any charges should have been brought in relation to his death but medical evidence showed that Mr Kapoor was suffering from severe heart disease and that his death was not caused by the actions of the defendants.