A people smuggler who brought Albanian migrants into the UK in his campervan has been jailed after a casino receipt proved his alibi was a lie.
Border Force officers found the men hidden in the showers and bunks of Oozy Hughes' van when it was stopped at Harwich Port in March 2018.
Hughes, also known as Mark Newton, claimed he had hired the van to drive to Spain and returned to the UK by ferry from the Spanish city of Santander.
His lies began to unravel when officers discovered the receipt from a casino in northern Belgium in his van, showing he had been there earlier that day to participate in a ‘Fantastic Fridays’ competition to win a 100-gram gold bar.
Border Force officers found the men hidden in the showers and bunks of Oozy Hughes' van
An investigation uncovered further evidence against him. GPS data from the campervan, which had been hired two days earlier, showed it had travelled through Belgium to the Netherlands, not Spain as Hughes had claimed.
Home Office Criminal and Financial Investigation teams discovered calls had been made from his mobile phone to numbers linked to a Belgian people smuggling ring.
Hughes, who made no mention of knowing anyone in Belgium or the Netherlands when interviewed, was subsequently charged with facilitating illegal entry to the UK.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to fifteen months in prison at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Chris Foster, Deputy Director of Criminal and Financial Investigations at the Home Office, said: "Today’s sentencing follows a complex and long-running investigation by my officers who have worked hard to bring this investigation to a positive conclusion.
“This criminal worked with organised gangs overseas in his attempt to exploit our border.
"I’m pleased to see that he has been brought to justice and grateful to my teams for their tireless work on this case.”