TWO people smugglers from East Lancashire - who tried to bring 29 Vietnamese nationals into the UK - have been jailed.

Frank Walling, 72, and Glenn Bennett, 55, along with Jon Ransom, 63, were each imprisoned for four-and-a-half years over the incident in Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall. Co-defendant Keith Plummer, 63, was jailed for 40 months.

Police say the Vietnamese, including women and children, were brought into the UK aboard a 42-foot yacht, owned by Walling.

Walling, from Colne, is known as a seasoned sailor and after the craft landed at Newlyn, on April 12 last year, several members of the public saw a group of people getting off the boat.

Truro Crown Court heard they were then seen getting into the back of a van which had been parked in the harbour car park.

CCTV footage was reviewed and the van, followed by another car, was stopped on the M5 near Cullompton, Devon.

The van door was opened and officers found the Vietnamese nationals inside. They were taken to a multi-agency reception centre and referred to the Home Office and social care services to be managed.

Walling and Bennett, from Burnley, were said to have been arrested while having breakfast on the harbour. Ransom and Plummer were detained later on the M5.

Judge Robert Linford, sentencing the four at Truro Crown Court, said they were motivated by profit and "traded in human misery" with the victims "carted around like freight".

Speaking after the case, Det Insp Glenn Willcocks said: "The vessel was in a poor state, smelling strongly of diesel and cluttered with clothing and empty food wrappings.

"The boat would have been extremely cramped with all 29 people having to share a single toilet.

"The four convicted today risked the lives of 29 men, women and children without any appreciation of the danger of their circumstances.

"They were motivated only by monetary reward and thankfully no one paid the ultimate price."

Each of the four was convicted under section 25 of the Immigration Act - assisting unlawful immigration

It is believed that the 29 victims boarded the yacht, which was called the Johan Sebastian and owned by Walling, in Roscoff, France.

Walling and Bennett crewed the yacht, which came into Newlyn Harbour early on the morning of April 12, the court heard.

Ann Hampshire, senior crown prosecutor for the south-east, described the trip as "carefully planned".

She said it was a "well organised operation involving people and places in different parts of the UK, carefully co-ordinated to facilitate illegal entry into the UK".