Abbots Langley mum who was 'significant player' in people trafficking ring has sentence appeal thrown out (From Watford Observer)
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Abbots Langley mum who was 'significant player' in people trafficking ring has sentence appeal thrown out
An Abbots Langley mum, who was a "significant player" in an Albanian people trafficking ring, has had an appeal against her jail sentence thrown out.
Tania Cecilia Britton, was jailed for four and a half years at Canterbury Crown Court in November after she was convicted of trying to smuggle two Albanian men through customs.
The 28-year-old, 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 judge told the court that the leader of the gang escaped before facing trial, 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.
The judge said: "Two Albanian men were found in the boot of her car.
"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. She said she had travelled to the continent to buy some horses."
The 28 year-old’s case reached the Appeal Court after Britton challenged her sentence, citing her family's compelling personal circumstances as a reason for leniency.
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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