Married couple became involved in a people-smuggling ring to pay off debt

Christchurch Crown Court

A husband and wife were sentenced for joining a people-smuggling ring to pay off debts.

The 2019 attempt to smuggle two Iraqi men concealed inside furniture was acknowledged by Nicholas and Pamela Fullwood.

In December 2018, Mr. Fullwood attempted to enter France in a van that he had rented and was stopped by French authorities.

At Canterbury Crown Court on Monday, they were sentenced along with a third defendant, Azad Ahmadi.

After entering guilty pleas to conspiring to aid in unlawful immigration prior to a trial, Mr. Fullwood, 48, received a sentence of three years in prison and Mrs. Fullwood, 45, received a sentence of two years with a suspension.

Ahmadi, 31, of Westgreen Avenue in Derby, had entered a not guilty plea to the same offense but was found guilty after a trial last year and given a sentence of four years, six months.

In December 2018, Mr. Fullwood rented a van and made an attempt to bring five Iraqi nationals to the UK, but the French authorities stopped him, according to Francis Lloyd, the prosecutor.

He and his wife, who are from Wingfield Road in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, were later discovered trying to smuggle two Iraqis concealed inside furniture into another hired van while their daughter, who was 13 at the time, accompanied them.

According to Mr. Lloyd, Ahmadi served as the scheme's "paymaster," transferring £4,280 into the Fullwoods' bank account.

At the time of the sentencing, Recorder Michael Turner stated that Ahmadi was "at the head of" the operation and that Mr. Fullwood's involvement "involved an element of desperation.".

He said of the latter, "I know you were threatened by a loan shark from whom you borrowed money, but at the end of the day your offending cannot be excused.".

He continued, "You were involved in this conspiracy out of a misguided sense of loyalty to your husband. The court heard that Mrs. Fullwood had cancer and was scheduled to undergo a preventative procedure in March. ".

Robert Jenrick, the minister of immigration, declared after the sentences were handed down: "We are determined to bring the criminal gangs that engage in the abhorrent business of people-smuggling to justice.

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