1. ITV Report

People smuggler from Newport jailed for five years

A man from Newport who was involved in two separate attempts to smuggle people into the UK has been jailed for five years.

Wendy Thomas (L) and Adriano Bettoja-Allen (R) Credit: Home Office

Adriano Bettoja-Allen, a British national aged 37, was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court on Thursday 14 December after pleading guilty to two offences of assisting illegal immigration which happened on 2 October and 9 October 2016 at Calais and Coquelles ports respectively.

Sentenced alongside Bettoja-Allen for one count of the same offence was 50-year-old Wendy Thomas, from Cardiff, who was his co-conspirator in the Coquelles smuggling attempt.

She received a jail sentence of two years and nine months having also admitted the offence.

Bettoja-Allen’s wife Jeanette, aged 49 and from the Philippines, was linked to the Calais incident and was sentenced to 11 months, suspended for two years, 150 hours unpaid work, and a curfew.

She pleaded guilty to assisting illegal immigration three days into her trial.

Investigation into the case started after the arrest of Dawood Shahbeik, a British national, at St Pancras International station when he arrived on the Eurostar from Calais on October 2 2016.

Shahbeik's mobile phone was found to contain text messages referring to an individual who had been transported to a house in Newport, South Wales, and a search of his luggage revealed a damaged Iranian passport and a large amount of cash, a Home Office spokeswoman said.

Thomas' arrest happened a week after Shahbeik's and text messages on both their phones showed they had been in regular contact with Bettoja-Allen, of Newport.

The women were found curled up in a holdall in the boot. Credit: Home Office
The man was found laying across the foot wells in the back. Credit: Home Office

Adriano Bettoja-Allen was revealed by our investigations to be the common link between what initially appeared to be unconnected incidents.

Our investigations showed that far from being opportunistic attempts to undermine the UK’s border controls, the offences had been carefully planned.

The fact that two women ended up in hospital demonstrates the dangerous lengths people smugglers will go to.

We work closely with Border Force colleagues to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration related criminality. This case should serve as a warning to anyone tempted to get involved with this kind of criminality.

We will catch you, and put you before the courts.

– Assistant Director David Fairclough, from the CFI team

The CFI team discovered Bettoja-Allen and his wife had travelled through Calais on October 2 having earlier met up with Shahbeik in Dunkirk and that Thomas and Bettoja-Allen had travelled in separate vehicles from Folkestone to Coquelles on the same Eurotunnel train on October 8.

Bettoja-Allen returned to the UK alone the next day less than two hours after Thomas had been stopped by Border Force.

Financial checks also uncovered a large cash deposit into Thomas' bank account in September 2016.

Jeanette Bettoja-Allen, 49, of Park Square, Newport, from the Philippines, was linked to the Calais incident and was sentenced to 11 months, suspended for two years, 150 hours unpaid work, and a curfew after pleading guilty to assisting illegal immigration three days into her trial, the Home Office said.

Her husband was sentenced to five years in prison after admitting two counts of assisting illegal immigration.

Shahbeik was dealt with at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to 18 months in prison after admitting one count of assisting illegal immigration Mr Fairclough said the case was a warning for anyone tempted to get involved in people-smuggling.