May 24 2013 Latest news:
Dean Kilpatrick, Reporter
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Belgian Jean Francois Hennaux admitted to assisting a number of illegal migrants to enter the country
A Belgian pilot who attempted to smuggle a number of illegal immigrants into the country has been jailed for three years.
Jean Francois Hennaux admitted to helping several groups of migrants get into the country by flying his light aircraft into Kent airfields.
He was caught after he landed unexpectedly at Headcorn aerodrome in June after asking air traffic control for permission to land and re-fuel, despite original flight plans stating no intention of landing on British soil.
Two Albanian adults and children disembarked the plane and were prevented from leaving the site by staff who then called Kent Police.
After questioning, it was confirmed the group had attempted to enter the country illegally and Mr Hennaux was arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration.
He also admitted to facilitating a number of other illegal migrants landing in the Ashford area.
Jean Francois Hennaux was sentenced to three years in prison at Maidstone Crown Court.
UK Border Agency’s Mark Rickard said: “People smuggling is a serious crime, which exploits vulnerable and desperate people. The sentence handed down by the Court reflects the severity with which those involved can expect to be treated.
“We work in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and the public to protect the UK’s border. We would encourage those using small airfields and airports to keep their eyes open, and report anything suspicious so that it can be investigated and dealt with.”
The two Albanian adults have been granter immigration bail, and are reporting to the UK Border Agency each fortnight whilst their case is considered.
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