A Vietnamese woman accused of coordinating the journeys of illegal immigrants in a speedboat across the English Channel was distressed and shouting when the police raided her home earlier in the morning, a jury heard today.

Hoa Thi Nguyen, 49, yelled: "What are you doing?" as she was arrested for conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry to the UK.

DC John Collinson told St Albans crown court he was part of a team of plain-clothed officer that went to Bicester Avenue in Walthamstow at 6.50am in the morning on August 30 last year.

He said after a delay of 30 to 60 seconds, the door was opened by a man. The detective saw a figure go upstairs and followed them.

DC Collinson said it was Ms Nguyen.

"She was shouting: 'Who are you? What are you doing?' We said we were police officers."

Asked by prosecutor Wayne Cleaver to describe her demeanour, he said: "She was stressed. She was shouting and was getting a little bit angry - she was flustered."

He said she was handcuffed and taken to Stevenage police station.

When she was interviewed, she made no comment to police questions.

In a prepared statement, she denied being involved in any conspiracy.

Under cross-examination by barrister Peter Guest for Ms Nguyen, the officer agreed that in a statement written shortly after the raid, he had described her not as stressed and shouting, but distressed.

Watford Observer:

Opening the case Mr Cleaver told the jury that traffickers used an inflatable RHIB - rigid-hull inflatable boat - to smuggle four Vietnamese men from the continent to Deal in Kent.

He said Hoa Nguyen is a Vietnamese speaker with overseas contacts.

"She can communicate with those wanting to make the journey - a very useful skill," Mr Cleaver said.

"She can coordinate those journeys and assist those who successfully complete the voyage."

He said phone evidence revealed contact between her and Nazmi Velia, who has pleaded guilty.

The jury heard that when the officers raided her home, they found an illegal immigrant called Tuan Nguyen (No relation). Phone evidence suggested he had arrived in the UK on May 28 or 29 last year.

Data allegedly retrieved from Hoa Nguyen's phones showed she had been sending overseas images of travel documents via WhatsApp.

During this period he said Ms Nguyen had visited Spain, Greece, Paris, Warsaw and Amsterdam.

"She was travelling about Europe," Mr Cleaver added.

"The prosecution say this is an enterprise with international dimensions. We say she was having direct contact with the people on the other side of the Channel who were 'herding' these people up."

The prosecutor alleged numerous luxury items were seized from her home including designer clothing, handbags and jewellery, as well as a Rolex watch.

The items were valued at retail at £29,016.

This was, he said, at a time when it appeared she had very little legitimate income.

The prosecution also allege that Chi Tan Huynh, Hoa Nguyen's partner, was an alternative point of contact for the gang when she was abroad.

Three defendants Thomas Mason, 36, of High Street, Eyeworth near Biggleswade, Hoa Thi Nguyen, 49, of Bisterne Avenue, Walthamstow, East London and her partner Chi Tan Huynh, 41, of Pickford's Wharf, Wharf Road, Hoxton, London, N1, all deny conspiracy to facilitate the illegal entry of foreign nationals into the UK between 1 April and 3 August last year.

Hoa Thi Nguyen also denies acquiring criminal property - relating to clothing, handbags and jewellery seized from her home.

Mr Cleaver told the jury that four others: Nazmi Velia, 32, of Park Street Lane, St Albans, Egert Kajaci, 35, of Turner Drive, Oxford, Erald Gapi, 27, of Marine Tower, Abinger Grove, Deptford SE8 and Wayne Lee ,46, of Grasmere Close, Watford had already pleaded guilty to their role in the conspiracy.

Another man, Patrick Ward. had been prosecuted in France.

The jury has heard the police were watching when four Vietnamese men were landed on a beach in Deal in the early hours of August 3 in a RHIB piloted by Thomas Mason. He made no comment to police questions when he was arrested.