John Femi-Ola QC and Peter Hunter secure acquittal in people smuggling case

John Femi-Ola KC

Peter Hunter

John Femi-Ola QC and Peter Hunter have secured a not guilty verdict for their client, ‘M’ following a two month trial at Chelmsford Crown, in a people smuggling case which attracted considerable media attention.

The defendants were all accused of playing a substantial part in a highly complex and organised international criminal conspiracy to smuggle Albanian migrants into the country using a 30m converted trawler called ‘The Svanic’.

In November 2020, the vessel was intercepted on the Norfolk coast carrying 69 migrants and it was alleged that a part of the plot was to bring a further 50 migrants into the country every week thereafter. M was the engineer on the ship’s journey from Latvia to Belgium where the migrants boarded and sailed to England.

The extensive investigation into the matter was conducted jointly by the National Crime Agency, the Border Force, HM Coastguards, Immigration Enforcement and the Essex Police.

Five men stood trial and M, who had spent a year in custody on remand, was the only one cleared by the jury; a sensational outcome for the whole defence team. The convicted men are to be sentenced at a later date.

John and Peter were instructed by Hayley Mahoney and Darren Flight of Harris Cuffaro & Nichols Solicitors.


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