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People smuggler caught with 22 refugees hidden in his lorry

Inside the lorry Credit: Border Force

A people smuggler has admitted trying to bring 22 Afghan refugees through Harwich Port hidden in his lorry.

Border Force officers discovered the 17 adults and five children in a compartment behind washing machines when they stopped the lorry from Holland driven by 32-year-old Tomasz Cierniak in February 2016.

He'll be sentenced for breaching immigration laws at Chelmsford Crown Court on Thursday.

The lorry had washing machines which masked the people behind Credit: Border Force

"The dangers of cramming this group into a small space behind a wall of heavy goods during a six hour ferry crossing are obvious, but Cierniak was content to put the lives of 22 desperate people at risk. People smuggling is a callous trade and those involved think nothing of treating human beings as commodities. Cierniak thought he could evade justice, but we, along with our law enforcement partners in Europe, never stopped looking."

– Rebecca Webb, from the Immigration Enforcement CFI team



Police concerned for safety of missing Essex teenager

Asharna Neil was last seen in Clacton on Sunday. Credit: Essex Police

Police say they're increasingly concerned for the safety of a 14-year-old girl from Essex who's been missing since Sunday.

Asharna Neil, from Harwich, was last seen at a Costa Coffee shop in Clacton.

Officers say she may have travelled to London, as she has links to the Hackney area. She's not thought have her phone or any money with her.

Asharna was last seen wearing a black leather jacket, white T-shirt, blue jeans and black pumps.

Detectives are appealing for information to help find her.

Hospital bosses reveal plans to reduce some maternity services in Harwich

The plans were revealed at a press conference Credit: ITV News Anglia

NHS bosses have announced plans to reduce maternity services at the Fryatt Hospital in Harwich to ease financial pressures.

Colchester Hospital University Trust says women may not have the option to give birth there from April next year.

Ante-natal, post-natal and consultant clinics will still carry on, as well as other maternity services.

The Trust is expected to make a decision by the end of the month.

“The Trust understands that the Harwich maternity unit is highly valued by some residents and is carefully considering this as part of its thinking.However, the Trust is also acutely aware of its role and responsibility as a guardian of public funds and their efficient and sustainable use. As part of these discussions, we must take into account the increasing cost of offering patients the option of giving birth at the unit. I can not as the person responsible for the public purse, for taxpayers money, I can not take the decision that means we are losing £6,000 per birth."

– Nick Hulme, Trust Chief Executive

Two more charged in connection with Harwich murder

Michael Beckwith was a keen angler. Credit: Essex Police

Two more people have been charged in connection with the murder of a man in Harwich last month.

44-year-old Michael Beckwith suffered serious head injuries after he was hit with a metal object in Barrack Lane on July 31.

23-year-old Triston Biddlecombe and 19-year-old Enderlein Biddlecombe have both been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Three other people have already been charged with conspiracy to murder.

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