UK: French couple jailed for 10 years for smuggling migrants inside furniture

A French couple has been jailed for nearly 10 years after they were caught trying to illegally smuggle Vietnamese migrants, including children, inside sofas, into the UK.

French couple prison in the UK for smuggling migrants inside furniture. Photo Courtesy: UK Home Office Facebook page

Parisian resident Junior Toussaint and Andrene Paul were sentenced to a combined 9 years and 11 months at Hove Crown Court recently after pleading guilty to assisting unlawful migration to the UK.

"The pair had worked together as delivery drivers in France and used furniture to hide a Vietnamese woman and three children in the back of a hire van," read a statement issued by the UK's Ministry of Interior.

They had travelled from Dieppe to Newhaven Port in the early hours of 2 April this year.

"Border Force officers became suspicious when they searched the van and saw movement from inside the adapted sofas, which were buried underneath a mattress and other furniture," the statement said.

Images taken at the time of the search, show two migrants packed inside with no means of escape without assistance from the smugglers.

Others were hidden among other fixtures,  including a chest of drawers. One migrant was found crushed underneath a settee.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said: "This case is another shocking example of the sickening tactics used by criminals who will think nothing of trapping women and children in appalling conditions to illegally enter our country."

"We are working night and day to stay one step ahead of the smuggling gangs and ensure they are swiftly brought to justice," Jenrick said.

"And our landmark Illegal Migration Act will decisively break their business model by removing the incentive to make a dangerous, illegal and unnecessary journey from the safety of France," he said.

Chris Foster, Deputy Director of Criminal and Financial Investigations at the Home Office, said: "Criminals are going to increasingly extreme lengths to smuggle people across the UK border for profit due to our efforts to clamp down on them. This sentence today reflects the severity of their crimes."