In Brief

Fifteen children found hidden inside refrigerated lorry in Sussex

Driver arrested after Vietnamese youngsters and six adults discovered in shipment of sparkling water

A Romanian man has been arrested and charged with assisting unlawful entry into the UK after 21 people believed to be from Vietnam were found inside a refrigerated lorry in Sussex. 

A criminal investigation has been launched following the discovery of the group - which included 15 children as young as 12 - hidden behind crates of sparkling water, reports the BBC. The lorry was searched after arriving at Newhaven Port from the French port of Dieppe.

The children were cold but unharmed and are now being looked after by social services. An 18-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman have been sent back to Vietnam, while the remaining four adults are being held at a detention centre, says Metro

The driver, Andrut Duma, 29, will remain in custody until he appears before Lewes Crown Court for a hearing on 26 November. 

Last year, a report by The Guardian claimed that a camp of Vietnamese nationals was hidden in woodland in northern France, near a major motorway route to Calais. The newspaper alleged that the camp was run by criminal gangs that were smuggling people - some of them minors - into the UK “to work illegally in cannabis farms, nail bars and restaurants”.

In 2015, nine Vietnamese teenagers were intercepted in a lorry at Newhaven. A further 13 Vietnamese youngsters aged between 14 and 18 were discovered inside a truck at an industrual estate in Northamptonshire last year.

A total of 3,552 penalty notices were issued to drivers and operators caught with illegal stowaways across Britain in 2016-17, with total fines reaching £7.8m, reports the Daily Mail.

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