Kent

Eurotunnel migrant smuggling: Pregnant mum found guilty

Vietnamese migrants hidden in van-load of tyres Image copyright Home Office
Image caption Four men, five women and three children were found hidden among the tyres

A woman has been found guilty of trying to smuggle 12 Vietnamese migrants into the UK in a van loaded with tyres.

Katy Bethel, who was six months pregnant at the time, and then-partner Aaron Harris were arrested on 4 July 2015 at Coquelles' Eurotunnel check-in.

Four men, five women and three children were found hidden among the tyres after a Border Force officer spotted a pair of legs sticking out.

Harris, 33, admitted assisting unlawful immigration at Maidstone Crown Court.

Harris and Bethel, who was a passenger in the van, will be sentenced on 11 September.

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The 28-year-old mother-of-four claimed she had no idea the migrants were in the vehicle.

Image caption Mother-of-four Katy Bethel (left) had denied the charge

She told the court she and Harris had gone on a day trip, looking for a beach, but had got lost and left the van by the roadside as they went for a walk.

The prosecution accused her of talking "nonsense".

Image copyright Home Office
Image caption A Border Force officer was alerted when he spotted a pair of legs sticking out of the tyres

The jury heard that in the four hours the pair were in France, they sent and received 67 messages and calls to and from an unknown number.

Bethel, of Dial Road, Gillingham in Kent, said Harris, the father of two of her children, was using her phone on the trip to make calls and texts and she was unaware of their contents.

Image copyright Home Office
Image caption Katie Bethel claimed she had no idea the migrants were in the van

The couple were returning from Calais to Folkestone when they were stopped by customs officers.

Both were charged with aiding and abetting unlawful immigration.

Harris had previously pleaded guilty to the charge.

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