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UK couple sentenced over smuggling Iraq migrants in sofas

February 23, 2023 at 3:52 pm

An image of a court in the UK [Luke Thornton / Unsplash]

A British couple have been found guilty of attempting to smuggle Iraqi immigrants into the country by hiding them in sofas. On Monday, Pamela and Nicholas Fullwood appeared at Canterbury Crown Court for sentencing, along with a third defendant, car wash owner Azad Ahmadi.

Fullwood, 48 was jailed for three years, while his wife Pamela, 45, received a two-year suspended term. Ahmadi, aged 31, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison.

The Derbyshire couple had previously hired a van in an attempt to bring five illegal migrants into the country in December 2018, but were caught by French authorities. The following month, the pair were caught trying to smuggle two Iraqi migrants by hiding them inside the bases of two sofas in a second hired van. The court learned that their 13-year-old daughter was travelling with them at the time.

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On 5 January 2019 they were stopped by British Border Force officers in the UK control zone in Coquelles, France. The couple claimed they were heading back to Britain from picking up furniture in Lille, however further investigations revealed that additional suspect, Ahmadi, was involved in the smuggling operation and is believed to have been the “paymaster”, having transferred £4,280 ($5,160) to the Fullwood’s bank account.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “A married couple who smuggled Iraqi migrants into the UK by hiding them in sofas have been sentenced today.”

“The trio were sentenced for conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, following an investigation by the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) unit.”

Following the sentencing, Minister for Immigration, Robert Jenrick, said: “We are determined to bring to justice the criminal gangs that undertake the repulsive trade of people-smuggling.”

“The Home Office is working night and day to dismantle people-smuggling networks and tackle illegal migration head-on.”

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