Chesterfield mum-of-two weeps as she is jailed for people smuggling

A Duckmanton mum-of-two wept in court as she was jailed for 18 months for trying to smuggle two Albanian men in the boot of her car through the Eurotunnel.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 5:37 pm

Heather Woodcock, 35, and a fellow passenger were at the French border and asked to open the boot of her VW Passat hire car.

Officials became suspicious when Woodcock told them she had been on a camping trip and they found no camping equipment inside the vehicle.

Prosecutor Siward James-Moore described how after opening the boot they found “two men curled up, one on top of the other” under the parcel shelf.

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Heather Woodcock wept as she was jailed for 18 months
Heather Woodcock wept as she was jailed for 18 months

The two men were released the same day in Calais on September 16, 2019.

Mr James-Moore said: “It was established that Miss Woodcock had paid for the Eurotunnel tickets a few days before and a second journey had been booked the following day.”

The prosecutor said a few days before a cash deposit of £1,200 was made into Woodcock’s bank account followed by another £1,300 three days later.

Sonal Ahya, defending Woodcock, described how the single mum of two children was not working at the time and “a friend offered her a way to earn some money”.

She said: “She took that opportunity and was essentially given instructions on the journey and the bookings to make.

“It’s plain that she now bears the brunt of what happened - to say she regrets what she has done is to understate the position.”

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Ms Ahya said Woodcock had already made arrangements with family for the care of her children and it would be “really hard for her in custody”.

Woodcock, Poolsbrook Road, admitted two counts of facilitating the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person.

Recorder Adrian Reynolds told Woodcock he had “no choice” but to jail her, adding the offence was serious for “all sorts of reasons”.

He said: “You must be aware of what happened to a number of people who came from the Asian continent in a large lorry and ended up with dozens of counts of manslaughter.

“It’s an inherently risky business that puts people’s lives at risk and the fact is you did it for financial reward, which just makes it worse.

“I don’t think for one minute you were the brains behind this operation but your fingerprints were all over it.

“Your two children exorcise me beyond anything that I can express.”

However the judge added there were cases that were “too serious” to treat children as a way of avoiding a prison sentence, adding “I’m afraid this is one of them.”

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