Dutch court jails Lisburn truck driver for ‘despicable’ people smuggling
Mark Allison (46) found with 14 Albanian people in his refridgerated trailer last year
A Northern Irish truck driver has been jailed in the Netherlands for people smuggling.
A Northern Irish truck driver has been jailed for 4½ years in the Netherlands for people smuggling with judges ruling he had “exploited vulnerable people for profit, handling them as human cargo”.
Mark Allison (46) was also found to be part of an international people smuggling network. He was arrested on August 18th last.
Allison, who is from Lisburn, appeared in court in Zutphen in the Dutch province of Gelderland charged with attempting to smuggle 14 Albanians into the UK hidden in his refrigerated truck under crates of fruit and vegetables.
The accused said he had been persuaded by his employer to smuggle illegals into Britain.
The court ruled that Allison had committed “a despicable crime” and had exploited his position as a truck driver to carry vulnerable people for financial gain.
The heard that Allison had parked his truck at an industrial estate in the town of Barneveld where a group of people were seen climbing inside the refrigerated trailer. Police arrived and found eight Albanian stowaways hiding between the crates of vegetables on August 3rd last.
Allison said he knew nothing about the human cargo, claiming that he had been sleeping in his truck. Due to lack of concrete evidence that he had known they were hiding in the truck he was allowed to go on his way.
On August 18th, acting on information, police stopped the truck near Appledoorn. Six Albanians were discovered hiding in near freezing temperatures between crates of fruit.
“These Albanian male stowaways were not dressed to withstand ice-cold temperatures only a couple of degrees above freezing,” said public prosecutor D M Noordzij. “The smuggled people could have suffocated or died from hypothermia because they were scantily dressed and the trailer had been locked from the outside.”
The people in the truck told police they had each paid between €300 and €350 to be smuggled into the UK.
The prosecutor said Allison cared little for the well being and safety of his human cargo and he called for him to receive a stiff prison term as a deterrent to other people smugglers. The court also heard that Allison was previously caught in France for the same crime.
The chairman of the panel of Judges, D. S.M Bak, said: “People smuggling is a despicable crime where people exploit the vulnerability of illegal immigrants for profit treating them like goods to be handled for money”