People smuggler jailed after bolting four teens in 'coffin-like' van roof
Nicolai Bogdan Lungan, 32, drove a van containing hidden migrants into the UK.
A people smuggler who bolted four Vietnamese teenagers into a “coffin-like” space in the roof of his van has been jailed.
Nicolai Bogdan Lungan, 32, accepted an offer of €6,000 (£5,200) to drive a van containing hidden migrants from Belgium into the UK.
He travelled by ferry from Dunkirk to Dover in February with four 17-year-old children bolted shut inside his Renault Master.
When the Romanian arrived at the Kent port, Border Force officers noticed the roof above the driver was unusually hot and covered with padded material.
They quickly stopped him and removed the material, revealing a hatch in the van roof which led to a compartment where they found the teens.
The migrants were lying on bare metal in the cramped and insufficiently ventilated roof hatch, bolted shut using power tools.
The children had no way of escaping from the hide without assistance.
When questioned by officers, Lungan claimed he was travelling to Glasgow to collect furniture that he intended to return to Romania to open a barbershop.
He was jailed for three years at Canterbury Crown Court for assisting unlawful immigration into the UK.
Chris Foster, deputy director for the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations, said the migrants were kept in “atrocious conditions”.
He said: “I hope this sentencing sends a powerful message that breaking the law and putting individuals’ lives at risk will not go unpunished.
“My team work tirelessly to disrupt this type of illegal activity and we will continue to take action against those who put people’s lives in danger for the sake of making money.”
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick added: ”These criminal and life-threatening attempts to smuggle people, including children, into the UK in these incredibly tight, coffin-like spaces are utterly abhorrent and we will not stand for it.
“I would like to praise our immigration enforcement officers who are working around the clock to prevent this activity and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Last year ten people were sentenced after 39 Vietnamese men, women and children were found dead in the trailer of a lorry near the Dartford Crossing.