1. ITV Report

Kent mother tried to smuggle 12 Vietnamese nationals into UK

The people were discovered hiding in tyres Credit: Border Force

A mother from Kent has been found guilty of smuggling twelve Vietnamese nationals into the UK.

Katy Bethel, 28, was travelling through France when police noticed jeans sticking out of a tyre stack in the back of a van. Searching the van, they found the immigrants hidden amongst the tyres.

The discoveries were made in the back of a van Credit: Border Force

On 4 July 2015, Katy Bethel and Aaron Harris were stopped by Border Force in a van at the UK Control Zone in Coquelles, France.

Harris, 28, was driving the vehicle and Bethel, also 28, was his passenger. When Border Force officers searched the couple’s borrowed Sprinter van they found 12 Vietnamese nationals (four men, five women and three minors) hidden among a load of tyres packed into the rear.

Harris and Bethel, both of Dial Road, Gillingham, were arrested on suspicion of assisting unlawful immigration into the UK and the investigation was passed to Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team. The Vietnamese nationals found in the van were handed to the French authorities.

Aaron Harris pleaded guilty on 30 January at Canterbury Crown Court and Katy Bethel was found guilty by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court today (Tuesday). The case has been adjourned for sentencing.

Harris and Bethel initially claimed to be having a day at the beach, but in reality their visit to France had a much more sinister purpose.

The pair gave little or no thought to the safety of their human cargo. Crammed into a tight space, had the vehicle been involved in any kind of accident the consequences could have been tragic.

People smuggling is a crime which puts vulnerable people into dangerous situations in the name of profit. This case shows my officers will not hesitate to bring those involved before the courts.

– Assistant Director David Fairclough, Criminal and Financial Investigation