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Smuggler who stuffed Vietnamese woman in car dashboard jailed

A people smuggler who tried to illegally bring a Vietnamese woman into the UK by stuffing her behind the dashboard of his car has been jailed.

Jozef Balog, 33, was given a two-and-a-half-year sentence at Canterbury Crown Court on Tuesday after admitting a charge of assisting unlawful immigration.

The Slovakian national was stopped by UK Border Force in Coquelles, northern France in June 2022, according to the Home Office.

Balog had claimed he was returning to his home in Manchester after visiting family.

Officers searched his Vauxhall Vectra, and noticed the carpet was further forward into the footwell than usual.

They proceeded to remove the glovebox and found a Vietnamese woman sitting cramped behind the dashboard.

The car had been modified to create a small hiding place for her.

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Calling it a "truly shocking case", Home Office deputy director of criminal and financial investigations, Steve Blackwell added it "shows the callous disregard these criminals have for the lives and safety of the vulnerable people they exploit".

He said: "We have once again shown that those who seek to exploit our border will be caught and brought to justice."

Balog has already served the prison sentence as he pleaded guilty to the charge in June 2022, and was in custody for 40 months.

The Vietnamese woman was identified, deemed to be an illegal entrant, and served with the necessary paperwork.