Case Law Database

Smuggling of migrants

Offences

• Enabling illegal entry

R v Seferi

Fact Summary

This case involves the smuggling of one Albanian male in the boot of a car driven by the two female accused from France to the UK. The two women left the UK on 2 April 2012 and picked up the smuggled migrant in Calais and then sought to return to the UK when they were stopped by a customs officer at Coquelles, France. The two accused were later charged and convicted for charges relating to facilitating illegal immigration. One of the accused unsuccessfully sought to appeal against her sentence.

A court later noted that Ms Seferi acted on a compassionate basis and not for financial gain.

Cross-Cutting Issues

Liability

... for

• completed offence

... as involves

• principal offender(s)

Offending

Details

• occurred across one (or more) international borders (transnationally)

Involved Countries

Albania

France

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Gender considerations

Details

• Gender considerations

Procedural Information

Legal System:
Common Law
 
Proceeding #1:
  • Stage:
    first trial
  • Decision Date:
    16 March 2012

    Court

    Court Title

    Crown Court

     

    Location

  • City/Town:
    Canterbury
  • • Criminal

    Description

    In this trial, the two defendants were found guilty on charges relating to migrant smuggling.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Guilty
  • Sentences

    Sentence

    Term of Imprisonment:
    1 year
     

    In sentencing Ms Seferi, the court noted that she was of previous good character but also highlighted the seriousness of her offending and the level of planning involved. The Recorder originally contemplated a sentence of two and a half years' imprisonment but reduced this sentence in light of Ms Seferi's youth.

    Ms. Seferi was to serve her sentence in a young offender institution.

    Sentence

    Term of Imprisonment:
    1 year
     

    Ms Cole was pregnant at the time of the trial and was also caring for a dependent mother. For these reasons, her sentence was suspended.

    The sentence was suspended for 18 months with supervision and an unpaid work requirement of 140 hours.

    Proceeding #2:
  • Stage:
    appeal
  • Official Case Reference:
    R v Seferi [2012] EWCA Crim 1404; [2013] 1 Cr App R (S) 63
  • Court

    Court Title

    Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)

     
    • Criminal

    Description

    In this trial, Ms Seferi sought to appeal against her sentence because of her youth and her traumatic childhood. These were argued to be significant mitigating factors and it was argued that the trial judge should not have reached the conclusion that she shared the same level of culpability as her co-accused.

    The Court held that the sentence of 12 months' imprisonment, having regard to the Recorder's initial starting point of a 2 and half year sentence could not be criticised. The Court considered that this sentence adequately reflected the mitigating factors in Ms Seferi's favour. Additionally, the Court noted that the mere fact that the co-accused might have received a harsher sentence did not assist Ms Seferi's case as the offending by both parties was not distinctly different. Noting that the Recorder was in possession of the pre-sentence reports as well as the evidence adduced during the trial, the Court considered that the Recorder was in the best position to make a determination of culpability. The Court considered that the Recorder had not erred and dismissed the appeal.

     

    Migrants

    Migrant:
    1 adult
    Gender:
    Male
    Nationality:
    Albanian

    Defendants / Respondents in the first instance

    Defendant:
    Sonila Seferi
    Gender:
    Female
    Age:
    19

    Ms Seferi is of Kosovar background and knew Ms Cole through their Albanian boyfriends. Ms Seferi had arrived in the UK in 1999 after her parents were killed in the war in Kosovo. She had completed a university access course but had not yet commenced at university. A court was later provided with two character references in Ms Seferi's favour which noted that she had done some work for a church in the UK. She had no history of prior offending.

    Defendant:
    Cole
    Gender:
    Female
    Age:
    36

    Ms Cole knew Ms Seferi through their Albanian boyfriends and was described as a mentor for Ms Seferi. Ms Cole was a qualified, but not a practicing solicitor at the time of the offending. Ms Cole was also pregnant and was caring for a dependent mother at the time of the initial trial.

    Charges / Claims / Decisions

    Defendant:
    Sonila Seferi
    Statute:
    Immigration Act 1971s 25(1) - Assisting unlawful immigration to Member State
    Charge details:

    Ms Seferi was the passenger in the car in which the migrant was smuggled. Ms Seferi was not involved in the planning or funding of the offending. She asserted that she had not been asked or coerced into bringing anyone into the United Kingdom. Additionally, she argued that she did not see the smuggled migrant enter the boot of the car and did not know how he had gotten there.

    Defendant:
    Cole
    Statute:
    Immigration Act 1971s 25(1)(a) - Assisting unlawful immigration to Member State
    Charge details:

    Ms Cole was the driver of the car in which the migrant was smuggled. Ms Cole allegedly booked and paid for the trip and was closer to the smuggled migrant than Ms Seferi.

    Court

    Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)

    Sources / Citations

    R v Seferi [2012] EWCA Crim 1404; [2013] 1 Cr App R (S) 63

    This entry was copied from The Migrant Smuggling Case Database, launched by the University of Queensland Migrant Smuggling Working Group in August 2013.