Trafficking trio jailed for a total of 22 years

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Three men who trafficked teenagers into the United Kingdom using an inflatable boat have been jailed.

The following were charged with conspiracy to facilitate unlawful entry into the UK. They were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, 6 December:

Christian King, 38 of Ruskin Drive, Worcester Park denied the offence but was convicted following trial on Friday, 22 March. He was jailed for nine years.

Henry Dunn, 38  of Barnfield Park, Sevenoaks, Kent was also charged with participating in the criminal activities of an Organised Crime Network (OCN). He denied both offences and stood trial in March, where he was convicted for being part of an OCN but the jury could not reach a decision on the charge of conspiracy to facilitate unlawful entry into the UK.

He was later convicted of the offence following a re-trial which concluded on, 24 September. He was jailed for nine years.

James Davis, 31 of Tennyson Avenue, New Malden was also charged with participating in the activities of an OCN. He pleaded guilty to both offences at an earlier hearing. He was jailed for four years and six months.

All three defendants were arrested as the result of an intelligence-led investigation carried out by the Met’s Specialist Crime Command.

Officers used a range of overt and covert tactics to trace the activities of the group and eventually arrest them in the process of trafficking four Vietnamese males – aged 14, 15, 16 and 23 – into the UK.

Between 4 and 6 November 2017 Davis and King were seen travelling between Dymchurch and Hastings with an inflatable boat attached to one of their vehicles. They travelled along the coastal roads and observed areas of beach attempting to identify a suitable point to enter the boat into water.

Telephone records showed that throughout this period King remained in regular telephone contact with Dunn.

On 7 November 2017 Davis and King travelled to Dymchurch where the boat was entered into the English Channel with Davis on board.

Davis made his way to a beach on the outskirts of Boulogne – a journey of approximately 45 miles. In Boulogne he met with another male, who placed four young Vietnamese males into the boat, which then returned to the UK.

After returning to the UK, Davis escorted the four males to a vehicle parked in a harbour in Folkestone, Kent. The passengers entered the vehicle and were driven away.

Davis was arrested at the scene and King was arrested nearby shortly after. The vehicle containing the four Vietnamese males was stopped on the M20 just outside Folkestone.

The three teenage victims were placed into the care of social services. The 23-year-old told officers he was trafficked against his will to France, where he was forced into servitude for several months before being taken to the French coast and put into the boat.

Dunn handed himself in to police in Barking on 24 May 2018 where he was arrested for his part in the conspiracy.

Officers from the Met’s Marine Police Unit assessed the inflatable boat used by the group. They found it was in an overall poor condition and had no warning lights or emergency radio on board, meaning it would have been invisible to passing freight vessels.

The boat had also been modified causing the battery to be situated directly next to the fuel tank, which could have led to an explosion on the vessel. There were flares within the boat but they were out of date, and there were no life jackets on board.

Detective Superintendent Neil Ballard from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command said:

“The Met worked closely with HM Coastguard, the search and rescue arm of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, French Law Enforcement Agencies and Border Force to bring this dangerous incident to a safe conclusion.

“The victims of this crime were young, vulnerable males who were trafficked through Europe to the beaches of France where they were put onto an inflatable boat. The boat travelled to the coast of the United Kingdom in the cover of winter night, putting the vulnerable victims in an extremely frightening and dangerous situation. Her Honour Judge Lees told the court the lives of these young people were ruthlessly placed at jeopardy through the financial motivation of these three men.

“It is down to the efforts of our officers, and close partnership working, that we were able to trace these individuals and stop them before they could bring any more harm.

“The Met will continue to work with partners to combat human trafficking and modern slavery in order to safeguard those who are most vulnerable. We will continue to target organised crime groups who seek to profit from these audacious acts and bring them to justice.”