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 Published on: 20th October 2017   |   By: The Newsdesk   |   Category:

A young mum from Abbots Langley, jailed after she tried to smuggle two Albanian men through customs – stashed in the boot of her car – had her plea for mercy rejected by top judges today. Tania Cecilia Britton, 28, was caged for four and a half years at Canterbury Crown Court in November last year after she was convicted of conspiracy to assist in unlawful immigration. Britton, of Chapel Way, was part of a “highly sophisticated” gang involved in smuggling Albanians into the UK in breach of immigration controls, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith told London’s Appeal Court. She was sentenced on the basis of being “more than a mere courier”, the court heard.  Although not an organiser she was still a “significant player” in the people-trafficking ring. The leader of the gang escaped before facing trial, said the judge, but was sentenced to 11 years in his absence. The conspiracy “unravelled” after Britton’s car was stopped on the French side of the Channel Tunnel in November 2011. “Two Albanian men were found in the boot of her car,” said the judge, who added: “Neither of them had legal documents permitting entry to the United Kingdom”. “Britton claimed she had been unaware of the two men in her boot,” said the judge. She said she had travelled to the continent to buy some horses. Her case reached the Appeal Court as Britton challenged her sentence, citing her family’s compelling personal circumstances. Britton’s legal team said her incarceration was having a devastating impact on her three young children, urging the judges to “exercise mercy” in her case. Mr Justice Stuart-Smith, sitting with Lord Justice McCombe and Mr Justice Coulson, acknowledged the sentence’s “profound effect” on Britton and her family. However, he ruled that her punishment was “neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive”. There was a need for a strong deterrent element in such cases and the judge concluded: “The sentence was stiff but not excessive”.

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