Motor enthusiast shocked to find immigrant stowaway in his vintage car when he docked at Portsmouth

A classic car enthusiast was stunned to find an illegal immigrant asleep inside his vintage motor when he arrived in Portsmouth.

Monday, 25th February 2019, 5:11 pm
Updated Monday, 25th February 2019, 6:15 pm
The vintage car pictured on the low-loader which the immigrants managed to climb on. Picture: Michael Coatman/BNPS

Michael Coatman, 64, was driving his vintage 1926 Vauxhall 14/40 open tourer back from a car show in Perigueux, France, when he was targeted by immigrants twice in a matter of hours.

The semi-retired car salesman, who was transporting the vintage car on a low-loader, discovered the first stow-away at a petrol station just before boarding the ferry in Caen.

Luckily the gendarmerie were keeping watch and arrived on the scene within seconds but the African immigrant fled the scene.

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Michael Coatman dressed as Sherlock Holmes at the car show in France Picture: Michael Coatman/BNPS

Despite Mr Coatman's vehicle being thoroughly searched at the port in Caen, when he got off in Portsmouth another search revealed a Somalian immigrant asleep in the front seat of his classic Vauxhall.

Mr Coatman, of Poole, Dorset, who is dubbed Sherlock Holmes as he appears at car shows in period costume, said: ‘It certainly wasn't what I planned for my trip, it was a bit of a scary ordeal.

‘I stopped at a petrol station in Caen to get some fuel and I was a little bit nervous as there were a couple of refugees hanging around on the forecourt and it was dark and in the middle of nowhere.

‘As I was walking back round to the driver's side I heard this noise and there was a guy on top of the low-loader climbing underneath my car.

Michael Coatman's vintage Vauxhall Picture: Michael Coatman/BNPS

‘I screamed at him to get out and he started scrambling. The gendarmerie must have been watching the area because they pulled up straight away.

‘It was all a bit scary, I was a bit worried for my life because you don't know what might happen.

‘They must have phoned the port because they knew when I got there and thoroughly checked the car inside and out.

‘It was an overnight ferry and when I got off at the other side a couple of custom guys asked if I had checked the vehicle. 

Michael Coatman's Vauxhall at the show Picture: Michael Coatman/BNPS

‘I had a canvas cover on the car that you can only do up from the outside. So I checked all the buttons were still done up and checked under the low-loader but I didn't bother to check inside because no-one could have got in and then done them up.

‘But they said they wanted to double-check anyway and opened the door and there was a pair of feet in front of us.

‘I couldn't believe it, I was so annoyed.

‘They realised he must have had help with someone else doing the buttons up once he was inside which meant there must have been another immigrant on the ferry too.

‘So they searched and found another one in the back of a van. 

‘The authorities seem to be very diligent, but it was bizarre, I've never had anything like that happen before.

‘It certainly put a bit of a dampener on what had been a fantastic trip.’