A man has been jailed after pleading guilty to smuggling people into the country hidden in sofas and armchairs.

Arman Yusuf Rahmani was sentenced to two years and seven months at Preston Crown Court last week after admitting to breaking UK immigration law by hiding people in sofas and armchairs and smuggling them into the country in the back of lorries.

Lancashire Telegraph:

The counts he pleaded to were four counts of facilitation under Section 25(1) Immigration Act 1971 - do an act to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK Immigration Law by a non-EU person.

Rahmani 21, from Iran, who had been granted asylum in the UK on December 27 2017 after entering the country in the back of a lorry the year before, was caught attempting to smuggle people from France and Belgium into Britain.

Lancashire Telegraph:

From December 2018 to April 2019, Rahmani hired six different ‘man with van’ drivers advertising their services on social media and agreed for them to drive from the UK to France or Belgium to collect and transport second-hand furniture to the UK.

Unknown to the hired drivers, hidden within the sofas were migrants who had paid to be smuggled into the UK concealed in the bases.

The drivers were instructed not to help with loading the vehicles and were distracted while the loading took place.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Within two years of entering the UK, Rahmani had established a criminal network to facilitate foreign nationals illegally into the country.

Minister for Immigration Compliance and Justice, Chris Philip, said: “Rahmani showed a blatant disregard for the laws of the UK, a country which provided him with safety and a place to live for which he has rightly paid the price.

“This case shows the lengths criminals will go to profit from our broken asylum system by putting people’s lives at risk.

Lancashire Telegraph:

“We are aiming to step up prosecution of those smuggling people into the country which is why this government is bringing legislation through our New Plan for Immigration, breaking the business model of these heinous people smuggling networks and save lives.”

Video footage and photographs later taken of the hiding spots show that any plea for help from those in the back of the van would not have been heard, confirming Rahmani had no regard for the welfare of the people he was paid to hide.

Upon arrival at the UK border in France, UK Border Force officers searched the vans and quickly identified the migrants hiding inside.

Lancashire Telegraph:

All the illegal migrants discovered claimed to be Iraqi males, under 18 years of age.

Katie Brown, CFI Investigator said: “Today’s sentence is the result of an excellent investigation which brought to an end Rahmani’s pattern of criminality.

"People smugglers are motivated by money alone and show no regard for the safety of those they exploit.

"This case is a message that we never stop looking for those involved in immigration crime.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Rahmani will see out his two-year seven-month sentence at which point he will be eligible for deportation as a Foreign National Offender (FNO).

The Government’s New Plan for Immigration will help ensure the maximum sentence for illegally entering the UK is served to those who break the country's laws and will introduce a maximum life sentence for those facilitating illegal entry.