Stark warning for lorry drivers carrying weapons for self defence

16th September 2016

Stark warning for lorry drivers carrying weapons for self defence

The French border town of Calais has become one of the epicentres of Europe’s migration crisis, as thousands of refugees cluster in the area in an attempt to illegally enter the UK.

As a result, lorries have become key targets for migrants in their bid to smuggle themselves out of France – with drivers claiming they are increasingly facing threats from gangs.

The fear of violence combined with the prospect of a £2,000 fine for every migrant stowaway found has prompted some hauliers to carry prohibited weapons on their journey into the UK.

Now, following a number of recent prosecutions, the courts are warning drivers who arm themselves that they face the real prospect of an immediate custodial sentence if caught – potentially the mandatory five-year minimum term for committing a firearms offence.

In one recent case, an international lorry driver was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment after admitting possessing a disguised firearm, a prohibited weapon and an offensive weapon.

He had been detained by UK border officers at the channel tunnel freight terminal in France and found in possession of a stun gun disguised as a torch, an extendable baton and pepper spray. He claimed he didn’t know that possession of the items was illegal in the UK and that he had them as protection against migrants trying to get into his lorry.

The sentencing judge found the driver’s fear for his safety constituted exceptional circumstances, allowing her to dismiss the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for the disguised firearm offence. However, she did pass immediate, concurrent sentences of eight months’ imprisonment for each offence.

The judge warned there was a clear need to impose deterrent sentences for offences of this kind, which were becoming more and more frequent.

This week, an appeal saw the punishment reduced to a suspended sentence, after the driver successfully argued it was extremely unlikely he would commit further offences and highlighted his previous good character.

However, the court emphasised that for those illegally carrying prohibited weapons into the UK, an immediate custodial sentence is the likely outcome.

How can our Criminal Law Solicitors help?

Our experienced team of Suffolk Criminal Law Lawyers can advise on all aspects of criminal law. We will act for you when you need us most, either at the police station or at court, and we are well respected for our ability to guide, inform and get results by defeating an investigation or a prosecution or by minimising the effect on you.

Whether you are under investigation for a criminal offence or if you have already been charged, we can ensure that your case is presented in the most effective way.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 01473 298140. We also have offices in Ipswich, Melton, Hadleigh, Felixstowe and Woodbridge.

Practice Areas
Accident and Personal Injury Claims
Criminal Law Solicitors
Blog Posts

Why women mean business…


Today is International Women’s Day, the annual celebration of the social, economic, cultural and…

Read More
Upcoming Events

Inheritance Tax and Wills Planning Seminar


What the seminar will cover... Inheritance Tax: - When does it apply; what are…

Read More
News Posts

Events Firm is the Only Show in Town After Move to New Home


An expanding Ipswich events business is taking centre stage after moving into a new…

Read More


"Everything was dealt with in a compassionate and friendly manner"

- AW

"Pat's service is always extremely efficient and very approachable"

- AO

"Relieved that I could leave you to deal with the legal aspect of my late husbands estate"

- DG

"We cannot thank you enough for all your hard work and sticking with us. You have been amazing and showed a lot of patience when dealing with this case and all for no reward for yourself, thank you."

- Dean Kentfield

"Approachable, very efficient, always willing to take my calls and update me."

- SH

"We were very pleased to have Jade as our solicitor, the service was excellent and we felt kept in the loop which minimised stress"

- CT

"I have used Tracey Hammond at Gotelee on a number of occasions and in my opinion, she is simply the most efficient conveyancing solicitor I have ever worked with. From the outset, she took the time to understand my specific business requirements and to date, she has exceeded all of my expectations."

- Dale Fiddy - Portobello Developments Ltd

"I don't think this house sale would have pulled together without Jo's determination and expertise. Excellent!"

- MT

"Jade Shelton was absolutely fantastic!! Professional and proactive at all times."

- JH

"This is by far the go-to firm for any issues. You are made to feel valued from the outset and they are so confident in what they do. Wouldn't recommend any other. Thank you Hugh and Max."

- Ros Jones

Please select preferred method of contact

* We will only contact you by telephone if you select this as primary form of contact.