Stephen Grattage prosecutes man for people trafficking, firearm and violence offences

August 21, 2023

Stephen Grattage from Exchange Chambers has successfully prosecuted a man for conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration into the UK as well as separate firearm and violence offences.

In December 2020, Border Force officials in France stopped a mother and daughter driving a campervan. Five Albanian nationals were found hiding in the vehicle’s locked storage area.

Prosecutor Stephen Grattage explained how the six-berth campervan was stopped at the UK controls in Coquelles. The mother and daughter said they had been working in Europe and were trying to return via the Channel Tunnel.

The pair had previously been stopped in their vehicle in Rotterdam days before and quizzed after sailing from Hull on the ferry. Mr Grattage said a “large investigative task” was undertaken and they had told officials in Rotterdam an alternative story, that they were nursing assistants. It was also found that their documents were forged.

But delving deeper in to the case, it was discovered that 35-year-old Christopher Hennigan was “clearly the organiser of the conspiracy”, Mr Grattage added.

He said Hennigan had recruited the mother and daughter and “controlled them in every step of the enterprise”. He instructed them to rent the campervan, told them what they required, paid for their needs and directed them where to go when in Europe.

Hennigan admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration to the UK.

On unrelated charges, Hennigan also pleaded to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and assault occasioning bodily harm.

Hennigan took a gun to the address in Leeds on the afternoon of 12 June last year. He entered the house and, during an argument, fired the weapon. The gunshot went through a window at the address before smashing a window in a neighbouring property, which was unconnected to the incident.  Hennigan then fled the scene prompting an armed police response which located him to an address in Little Smeaton, near Selby, North Yorkshire, where he was later arrested.

In total, Hennigan was sentenced to 11 years and 10 months with a three-year extended licence.