By Ashley Young-
Officials have discovered children as young as 12 years of age hidden inside a refrigerated lorry entering the UK. The children were placed in the care of social services.
A criminal investigation into the circumstances of their arrival was under way. The case is being led by Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigations.
The group, who said they were from Vietnam, were concealed in a shipment of sparkling water at the port of Newhaven in East Sussex last Thursday, the Home Office said. They added that the lorry was stopped after arriving from the French port of Dieppe..
A spokesman said the group included 17 people claiming to be aged between 12 and 17 who “presented themselves as Vietnamese”. “A total of 11 were later confirmed to be minors. They were passed into the care of social services,” he said
Interviews and age assessments later established that 11 were aged under 18.Two of the adults, aged 18 and a woman aged 27, were expelled from the UK, while the remaining eight – four women and four men – must now report regularly to Home Office immigration centres while their cases are examined.
A Romanian man driving was arrested and charged with assisting unlawful entry to the UK. Andrut Mihai Duma, 29, of no fixed UK address. He is reportedly being held in custody until a hearing at Lewes crown court on 26 November.