TWO sisters have been jailed for smuggling seven Albanian men into the UK in a camper van filled with an ‘unbearable’ smell of urine and excrement.
Border Force officers stopped Alison and Fabiola Alman as they arrived on a Brittany Ferries sailing from Bilbao into Portsmouth on October 4.
When officers opened the doors and went inside they found a ‘strong’ smell of excrement and urine.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard five of the men were in a rear sleeping and storage compartment, with two others in a sleeping compartment above the cab.
Enforcement officers first spotted the men when the vehicle was scanned.
Now a judge has jailed Alison Alman for four years and six months and her sister Fabiola for four years.
Sentencing, judge David Melville QC said it was a ‘planned operation in which some care had been taken’ and Alison Alman had been in ‘desperate need of money’.
The court heard how Alison Alman, 43, of Morley Avenue, London, had got into £4,000 debt with a ‘serious’ drug dealer who wanted her to bring in his family for ‘jobs’.
The unnamed dealer arranged for the travel in exchange for her paying off the debt, the court heard.
But she brought her sister Fabiola, 47, of Bastion Road, Gibraltar, into the smuggling operation as she could not drive the motor home following a conviction of drink-driving.
Both women at first denied being involved claiming they had gone on holiday and did not know the men were in the van, despite the smell described as ‘unbearable’ by the vehicle hire company that had to fork out £3,000 to pay for cleaning the vehicle.
Alison Alman had blamed the smell on some cheese in a fridge, prosecutor Keely Harvey said.
The prosecutor said: ‘She put this down to some cheese kept in the fridge which had been switched off for 24 hours.’
Her sister Fabiola, who was offered £800 to drive, was asked how she had not noticed the men or the smell.
Ms Harvey said: ‘She stated that the toilet was full, and put this down to her sister being a big eater, she said she herself suffered from constipation and did not use the toilet.’
Judge Melville said the men, who were arrested, were ‘unwanted immigrants’ with no right to be in the UK.
Both women admitted assisting unlawful immigration.
Jo Howorth, from Immigration Enforcement, said: ‘People smugglers like Fabiola and Alison Alman exploit the vulnerable and put lives at risk while lining their own pockets in the process.
‘I hope this case serves as a clear warning that those who try to break the UK’s immigration laws will be brought to justice.’