Driver gets 6 years for smuggling 35 Indians

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The Independent Online

A German lorry driver was jailed for six years yesterday for trying to smuggle 35 Indian migrants into Britain in the back of a sand tanker.

Michael Woop, 37, admitted trafficking human cargo into the English zone of the Channel Tunnel at Calais on 20 February this year.

Judge Warwick McKinnon said it was fortunate the lorry had been stopped to prevent a repeat of the recent tragedy in which 58 Chinese immigrants were killed while being smuggled into Dover by the Dutch lorry driver Perry Wacker.

Later Judge McKinnon called the defendant back into court and added a year to Woop's initial five-year jail term after police officers pointed out the maximum sentence had been raised by Parliament.

Customs officers found the 35 migrants in darkness in the back of the sand silo, Maidstone Crown Court was told. Judge McKinnon said an example had to be made of people dealing in human misery. He told Woop: "This is a quite dreadful case. You conveyed into this country, for financial profit, a human cargo of 35 human beings huddled together in quite appalling conditions of the close confines of that lorry."

When the migrants were found, Woop denied any knowledge of them being in the silo. He cried through much of the hearing and stared at his wife. Neville Willard, for the defence, said Woop smuggled the migrants to pay for asthma treatment for his wife.