A man smuggled his wife into the UK after getting her to hide in the engine compartment of his white transit van, a court has heard.
Ahmad Tahar, 30, of Peckham, south London – who has been in the UK since 2005 after arriving as a refugee from Iraq – got wife Shaida to hide under the bonnet of his Mercedes Sprinter van on a trip from France to the UK.
Canterbury Crown Court heard how Tahar had met his wife, who lived in Iraq, on the internet and that they had got married in the country.
The court heard how Tahar, who was granted British citizenship after fleeing Iraq, organised for his wife to travel to Turkey and then to Germany, before heading to Lille in France to meet her.
Tahar arrived in Lille in his Mercedes Sprinter van, which he had modified by removing the air and water filters to make room for his wife – and drove 60 miles from Lille to Calais on December 31 last year.
When they got to Calais, Tahar got his wife to hide in the specially-modified engine compartment before driving on board a EuroTunnel train to Folkestone, Kent.
When he arrived in Folkestone around 35 minutes later, however, a security guard spotted something 'moving around' under the bonnet and lifted it up to find Tahar's wife curled up inside.
Tahar was arrested on suspicion of people smuggling and admitted the charge at Canterbury Crown Court last week.
Stephen Earnshaw, defending, told the court there were 'exceptional factors' in the case – and that his wife's family in Iraq did not approve of the marriage – and urged the judge not to sent Tahar to jail.
His wife has been granted the right to remain in the UK ahead of a decision by the Home Office and Tahar was released on bailed after the hearing at Canterbury Crown Court, the Kent Messenger newspaper reported today.
A charge of people smuggling carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, with Tahar due to be sentenced on April 16
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