A PEOPLE smuggler who hired a van, drove hundreds of miles and hid four men behind bin liners was jailed in his absence – because he couldn’t make the train on time.
Gary Giles brought the Albanian men into the country at Portsmouth port but was stopped in his vehicle with the men after arriving in the city on a sailing from Santander, Spain.
They were hidden behind bin liners filled with cushions and foam in the back of a hired transit-type van. Giles claimed to be alone but Border Force officers uncovered the stowaways with a holdall containing their personal items.
Investigators from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation team probed the case while the Albanian nationals, who had no right to enter the UK, were handed to Immigration Enforcement.
The 60-year-old, of Bishopsridge Close, Bolton, had been due to appear at Portsmouth Crown Court on Monday.
But word came from his lawyer that he had missed a connecting train at Manchester.
Sentencing, Recorder Jeremy Williams said Giles was ‘plainly not the organiser’ and that another man named during a trial was ‘certainly above’ the defendant.
The judge said: ‘I’m quite clear in my judgement he entered this criminal enterprise with his eyes open and entered it for financial gain.
‘He was to provide the means by which these people were to enter the UK: a British registered vehicle, a British driver, all intended to avoid if at all possible – the suspicion of the Border Force.’
He added: ‘I take the view that he’s being used as the British man to be brought in.
‘These people were not friends or relatives of Mr Giles. They were strangers who were no doubt paying a substantial sum to be trafficked into this country.
‘They are all, on the face of it, four perfectly fit and healthy adults. I have no doubt that Gary Giles expected to receive a sum for his participation that made it worth his while to do so.’
The judge added: ‘In my view Mr Giles was an essential member of this group.’
Judge Williams jailed Giles for four years and six months and issued a warrant for Giles’ arrest - with his legal team now scrambling to let him know. He will be jailed when he hands himself in or is picked up by police.
He said: ‘Gary Giles has previous convictions – the effect of that is he’s plainly not naive in the way of the criminal world.’
Giles, who has 19 past convictions for 46 offences, was jailed for four years and six months. He had denied the charges.
Colin Buckle, mitigating, said he was involved in a criminal enterprise organised by others. He added: ‘This is not the type of case which is a particularly sophisticated case of its type.’
Giles was convicted of four charges of assisting unlawful immigration at a trial. He denied the charges.