Speedboat people smugglers jailed
Two ex-soldiers who smuggled Chinese illegal immigrants across the Channel in inflatable boats have been jailed.
Allan Guy Gallop, 49, and Marcus Wakelin, 42, both of East Sussex, were filmed by police dropping the immigrants at Newhaven in May 2004.
Gallop, from Peacehaven, was jailed for four years, and builder Wakelin, of Eastbourne, got a three year sentence.
The judge at Maidstone Crown Court told them they had been involved in “an insidious trade in human trafficking”.
The court heard each of the immigrants they transported had paid up to £7,000 to “Snake Head” gangsters before being collected in Calais and brought across the Channel through busy shipping lanes.
Gallop, a divorced father-of-two, was approached to act as a “ferryman” for illegal immigrants by an Albanian man in February 2004, and was told where to collect the immigrants by a Paris-based Chinese woman.
He made a first trip alone in the early hours of 1 April, transporting seven people, the court heard.
His mission was tracked by a police aerial surveillance unit.
He then enlisted Wakelin to take charge of a second boat on 30 May when a further 13 people were brought to the UK.
The court heard both men were motivated by money, with Gallop receiving up to £20,000 in total, and Wakelin up to £9,000.
Prosecuting, Tony Prosser said: “The role demanded a great deal of expertise, and they were experienced boatmen.”
Gallop, a former Grenadier Guard, pleaded guilty to two counts of facilitating illegal entry into the UK.
Wakelin, a former Queen’s infantryman, admitted a single charge.
Jailing them, Judge Warwick McKinnon said: “This was very dangerous work crossing busy shipping lanes at night.
“Each of you was an integral part of what was a highly-sophisticated and organised enterprise.”
He added that they had shown little concern for the immigrants’ safety, choosing only to equip themselves with life jackets and helmets, and using boats without light or radar reflectors.
Speaking after their sentencing, Det Ch Insp Paul Gladstone, of Kent Police, said Gallop and Wakelin had used their military backgrounds to “establish an operation which took advantage of vulnerable people, who believed they were being helped”.