Kent

Pregnant mum had 'no idea' 12 migrants were in van

Katy Bethel (left) denies the charge
Image caption Katy Bethel (left) denies the charge

A pregnant mother had "no idea" there were 12 Vietnamese migrants in the back of a van she was travelling in, a court heard.

Katy Bethel, 28, and Aaron Harris, 33, were arrested on 4 July 2015 at Coquelles' Eurotunnel check-in.

The couple were returning from Calais to Folkestone when they were stopped by customs officers after a four-hour trip to France.

Both were charged with aiding and abetting unlawful immigration.

Harris had previously pleaded guilty to the charge.

Ms Bethel, of Dial Road, Gillingham in Kent, appearing at Maidstone Crown Court, denies the charge.

Leg spotted in van

Ms Bethel was six months pregnant with her fourth child when the Mercedes van she was in was stopped for border checks, the jury was told on Thursday.

When Harris was asked to open the van doors a police officer glimpsed a person's legs, and discovered 12 people concealed amongst tyres in the back of the van.

Ms Bethel told the court she had "no idea" the people were in there.

The prosecution questioned why she had previously stated they were going to buy alcohol and cigarettes for a party, but did not return with any purchases on what was a very short day out.

'Nonsense'

In the four hours the pair were in France, they sent and received 67 messages and voicemails to and from unknown numbers, the court heard.

Ms Bethel said Harris was using her phone on the trip to make calls and texts and she was unaware of their content.

She and Harris, the father of two of her children, were loaned the van from a friend of Harris' for a last minute day trip, the court was told.

They got lost while looking for a beach so instead left the van on a roadside to take an hour-long walk to a strawberry field near Calais, she said.

The prosecution accused Miss Bethel of talking "nonsense".

The case continues.

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