People smuggler to be sentenced after 22 Afghans found in lorry

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A people smuggler who admitted trying to travel through an English port with 22 Afghan nationals concealed in his lorry is to be sentenced.

Border Force officers made the discovery when they stopped a lorry driven by Polish national Tomasz Cierniak, 32, after it had arrived at Harwich International Port on a ferry from the Hook of Holland.

Cierniak told officers that he was carrying electronic goods, and when the lorry's rear doors were opened officers found washing machines and tumble dryers stacked three high and four across.

Officers found 22 people, including five children, in a purposely-created gap between the heavily loaded rear and the front of the trailer.

Cierniak, of no fixed UK address, was arrested on suspicion of facilitating a breach of the UK's immigration laws after he was stopped on February 2 last year.

He admitted the offence at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday and is listed to be sentenced at the same court on Thursday.

Rebecca Webb, from the Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigations team, said: "The dangers of cramming this group into a small space behind a wall of heavy goods during a six hour ferry crossing are obvious, but Cierniak was content to put the lives of 22 desperate people at risk.

"People smuggling is a callous trade and those involved think nothing of treating human beings as commodities."