Romanian man who tried to smuggle 10 Vietnamese nationals including eight children into Britain in an adapted fridge in his lorry is jailed for more than four years
- Ciprian Scorteanu, 45, had his lorry seized so the tyre cargo could be inspected
- When steam came from the adapted fridge hours later, ten people were found
- The nationals, found at Hull’s Port, may have been in the fridge for 36 hours
- The two men were refused entry and sent to Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- The eight children have been taken into the care of social services
A Romanian man has been jailed for more than four years after trying to smuggle eight Vietnamese children and two men into the UK in an adapted fridge.
Ciprian Scorteanu, 45, was stopped at the Port of Hull on October 27 last year so that his cargo of used tyres could be searched.
Hours later, however, when steam started coming from the lorry’s refrigeration unit, officers pulled off its front and found ten Vietnamese nationals.
The eight Vietnamese children and two men were found at Hull’s port after steam started coming from the adapted fridge they were hiding in
It is believed they had already been in there for 36 hours, having started their journey to the UK in Germany
Scorteanu had abandoned the lorry after it was seized for 48 hours by border forces when they became unsatisfied with his answers to their questions.
The Vietnamese nationals were believed to have been in the fridge for 36 hours with only drinking water since Scorteanu started travelling from Germany.
Mark Robinson, Humberside assistant director for Border Force said: ‘This was a deliberate attempt to bypass the UK’s border controls. The trailer had been adapted for the sole purpose of smuggling.
‘It is a testament to my officers’ training that they found the people and found them so quickly.
‘Without their expertise the Vietnamese nationals could have been trapped in these confined conditions for 48 hours. The risks to their welfare are obvious.
‘Border Force officers are on the front-line keeping our borders safe and secure.
‘We will continue to work with law enforcement colleagues to ensure that people smugglers and traffickers, who often put the lives of others at risk through their actions, face the consequences of their crimes.’
Ciprian Scorteanu, 45, was jailed for four years and six months at Hull Crown Court after admitting the offence
The two men were refused entry to the UK and sent back to Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The eight children have been taken into the care of social services
After finding the Vietnamese nationals, police were alerted and Scorteanu was arrested the same day in Lincolnshire where the A15 meets the A180.
The investigation was passed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) officers and Scorteanu was charged with assisting unlawful immigration into the UK.
Katie Brown, from CFI, said: ‘Scorteanu’s callous disregard for their safety is frightening.
‘We work closely with Border Force colleagues to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration related criminality and put those responsible before the courts.’
The Vietnamese men found in the fridge were refused entry to the UK and removed to Rotterdam in The Netherlands. The eight children were taken into the care of social services.
Scorteanu, who did not have a fixed UK address, was jailed for four years and six months at Hull Crown Court on March 7 having admitted the offence at an earlier hearing.
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit the Crimestoppers website.