Smuggler caught trying to sneak three migrants in crammed car roof box is jailed

An official said it was “incredibly dangerous” to cram the migrants into the roof box (Picture: Home Office)

A man who tried to smuggle three Vietnamese nationals into the UK inside his crammed car roof box has been jailed for three years.

Robert Rooney, 35, attempted to hide the migrants, including a 15-year-old girl, from authorities on October 5 last year in Coquelles, France.

The three people were discovered when Border Force officers in the UK controlled zone stopped the Ford Focus and forced open the box.

Pictures released by the Home Office show how cramped the conditions were inside the container.

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Three Vietnamese migrants were crammed into the car roof box (Picture: Home Office)
They were found by UK Border Force officers in France (Picture: Home Office)

Irishman Rooney, of Edmonton Green, London, was initially asked to open the roof box but claimed he had lost the keys.

Officers then partially forced it open and saw the were people inside.

Rooney was immediately arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal entry into the UK and when officers searched him, they found two keys to the roof box.

Dan Scully, Border Force regional director, said this type of smuggling was “incredibly dangerous” and puts lives at risk.

He said: “Crammed into a confined space inside the roof box must have been terrifying.

“It is thanks to the vigilance of Border Force officers that they were discovered and that Rooney was caught.

“Border Force officers will continue to work with law enforcement colleagues here and in France to ensure that smugglers face the full consequences of their crimes.”

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Robert Rooney who has been jailed for three years at Canterbury Crown Court (Picture: PA)

Deputy director Dave Fairclough, from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team, added: “Rooney deliberately placed three people in an extremely precarious situation.

“He was prepared to turn a blind eye to the obvious risks as long as he was benefiting.

“He has rightly been handed a custodial sentence. The message to the callous criminals engaged in immigration related criminality is clear – you will be caught and the consequences will be severe.”

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Rooney pleaded guilty to facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration laws and was sentenced on Friday at Canterbury Crown Court to three years in prison.

The three Vietnamese nationals involved in the case were handed to the French Police Aux Frontieres.