Cousins posing as engaged couple caught smuggling child into UK in footwell of car
Two cousins posing as an engaged couple have been jailed for smuggling a child and two adults into the UK in the footwell and boot of their rented car.
Jamie and Danielle Estabrook, 36 and 33, told Border Force officers at the Channel Tunnel in Coquelles, France, that they were returning from Paris after touring potential wedding venues.
But when the SUV they were in was searched, a five-year-old girl and her mother were found crammed in the rear footwell under a jacket.
Officers also discovered a man stowed in the boot of the rented Peugeot during the search in January 2020.
Canterbury Crown Court heard that Jamie Estabrook recruited his cousin with promise of a payment of £2,500 to be the “soft face” of the conspiracy.
Together with Kenan Parlakyildiz, 41, they plotted to bring the Turkish nationals in via the Folkestone outbound terminal.
The trio, who all live in Essex, were jailed for a combined total of 11 years after admitting their roles in the people smuggling conspiracy before trial.
Judge Douglas Marks Moore said: “All three of you were involved here for financial gain. This is an offence that has been well organised and meticulously carried out."
The court heard their crimes included the collection of a mother and child, apparently in Paris, and another man thought to have been picked up around the Dunkirk area.
The judge said: “The two were in the car itself, under coats, and the one individual was in the boot."
He branded their actions a “very serious offence” designed to reward criminal gangs and people smugglers.
Jamie Estabrook and Parlakyildiz headed up the conspiracy, with Danielle Estabrook enlisted to drive the Hertz-hired Peugeot 3008.
When Border Force officers quizzed the Estabrooks, they said they were engaged and had been looking for a suitable wedding venue.
After their vehicle was seized, the pair claimed they had no idea the people were inside their car, despite two being positioned only about a foot away from them.
Jamie, who has 23 convictions for 63 offences including burglary and robbery, was handed four years' custody.
His barrister Jonathan Rosen said his offending stemmed from a drugs problem, which he has since addressed.
Parlakyildiz was jailed for four years and Danielle Estabrook three years.
Kerry Waitt, mitigating for Danielle Estabrook, who is pregnant and will give birth in custody, said: "My client played an instrumental, an important role in this conspiracy, but whatever her importance or significance, she is subservient to the two co-defendants.
"She was recruited at a vulnerable time when she had recently come out of hospital and her income had depleted.
"To this day she has regretted her stupidity in allowing herself to become involved."