A LORRY driver who fled the country after he admitted trying to smuggle illegal migrants in his HGV has been returned to the UK and jailed.

Grigore Daniel Nistor, 43, was arrested in Germany after Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) worked with international law enforcement partners to locate him after he absconded.

Nistor had tried to smuggle ten Vietnamese nationals into the UK hidden in a load of used tyres inside his HGV.

He was stopped by Border Force officers on August 15, 2018, at Newhaven after arriving on a ferry from Dieppe.

At Hove Crown Court on July 25 last year Nistor admitted facilitating illegal migration.

He was released on court bail and absconded before his sentencing hearing could take place.

CFI secured a European Arrest Warrant for Nistor and on January 17 he was arrested in Munich by the German Federal Police.

He was returned to the UK by specialist CFI officers and this week appeared at Lewes Crown Court where he was sentenced to 40 months for the people smuggling offence as well as an additional four months for his failure to appear at the previous hearing.

Dave Fairclough, CFI deputy director, said: “Nistor’s smuggling attempt was putting lives at risk.

“Had anything gone wrong on the journey, the people hidden in his cargo would have stood little chance.

“It is thanks to the vigilance of Border Force officers at Newhaven that he was not able to proceed any further.

“CFI officers were determined that Nistor would not avoid his sentence and, since he absconded, have continued to work to bring him back to the UK.

The jail term handed to him sends a clear message that those involved with this kind of criminality will be brought to justice.”

When he was arrested, officers found that Nistor, of Windermere Avenue, Purfleet, had several fraudulent documents designed to make his journey appear legitimate.

These included a false delivery note for his HGV cargo which showed that it was to be delivered to a company in Hillingdon, west London.

On his laptop officers found a European road haulage licence in a false name, as well as insurance certificates and an HGV Goods Vehicle Identity Disk, both of which had altered details.

Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org