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Home HAMPSHIRE Three men from the Isle of Wight have been convicted of organising the smuggling of people across the English Channel

Three men from the Isle of Wight have been convicted of organising the smuggling of people across the English Channel

47-year-old Stephen Redhead, of Horsbridge Hill in Newport and 55-year-old Christopher Barber, of Landguard Road in Shanklin, have today (Friday) been found guilty by a unanimous jury of conspiring to do an act to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person, contrary to the Immigration Act. Their convictions come following a 7-day trial at Portsmouth Crown Court. Jean Pierre Labelle, 45, of Ashey Road, in Ryde, pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court on 3rd February to the same offence. On 17th March 2020, Labelle travelled to Cherbourg in France, onboard a 70ft ketch yacht named ‘Anore’ with Redhead and Barber. They returned to East Cowes Marina on 19th March 2020 with 10 additional people who are suspected to have been migrants entering the UK illegally. CCTV was examined showing the migrants alighting the vessel and a report was made to Hampshire Constabulary following the incident, before being passed to officers from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) to investigate. The migrants are believed to have been in the UK but have not been able to be traced due to the incident being retrospectively reported. Between 26th June and 27th June 2020, Labelle organised another journey using a small boat named ‘Freedom’. On this occasion he was unsuccessful and the vessel used was intercepted after a joint operation with SEROCU, the National Crime Agency and French authorities. 6 Albanian nationals were found to be on board along with 2 criminal associates who were subsequently prosecuted in France. Checks established that the Albanian nationals did not have the necessary pre-entry clearance needed to enter the United Kingdom. Clair Trueman, Senior investigating officer from SEROCU, says: “Today’s convictions are the result of detailed investigation into people smuggling. “We know the dangerous that people face being smuggled across the English Channel and we know tragically, this and other methods can have lethal consequences. “We continue our work to tackle the people smugglers who seek to exploit UK borders and treat migrants as a commodity to be profited from, with no regard for their safety.” Senior investigating officer Clair Trueman, from SEROCU Redhead has been remanded in custody and Barber has been released on bail until sentencing. The defendants are due to appear at Isle of Wight Crown Court for sentencing on 18th March.

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