A man has been jailed for trying to smuggle two illegal immigrants into the country in the boot of a car.
Karim Yaghmouri was stopped by police when he drove off the ferry in North Shields on March 30, Newcastle Crown Court heard last week.
When they searched the car they found two men, Manpreet and Raminder Singh, curled up in the boot.
The court heard that Yaghmouri was paid 2,000 euros to bring the pair from Holland to the UK, and this was the fifth time he had carried illegal immigrants into the country.
Frank Smith, defending, said that Yaghmouri only became involved in the offence because he needed the money to pay off debt he had incurred in Holland in relation to cocaine use.
Mr Smith said: “It was partly out of fear that he became involved and he believed he had indicated to the creditor he was not prepared to take part in this long term.
“Mr Yaghmouri was a small cog in a very large machine.
“He was compelled to take the risk because of the situation he was in.”
Yaghmouri, 37, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of the immigration law and was jailed for 21 months.
Raminder Singh, 28, pleaded guilty to illegally entering the UK and was sentenced to three months in prison.
Manpreet Singh, 25,pleaded guilty to the same offence and was jailed for two months.
All three men will be deported once they are released from prison.
Sentencing Yaghmouri, Judge Guy Whitburn said: “It must be clear by the sentences passed that anyone who involves themselves to the extent that you did in the illegal facilitation of immigrants into this country will be severely dealt with.”