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Teacher in smuggling plot jailed

PUBLISHED: 02:21 20 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:30 03 March 2010

DESPERATION to forge a better life for herself and her son has left fresh-faced primary school teacher Rita Gikiene behind bars today.

Gikiene admitted her part in a plot to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country through Suffolk at Ipswich Crown Court.

DESPERATION to forge a better life for herself and her son has left primary school teacher, Rita Gikiene, behind bars today.

Gikiene admitted her part in a plot to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country through Suffolk at Ipswich Crown Court.

The yacht Gikiene chartered, docked at Fox's Marina in Ipswich before sailing on to Aldeburgh, Thorpeness, Sizewell and Walberswick and being seized by police in Southwold harbour.

Rita Gikiene, a Lithuanian primary school teacher, pleaded guilty to facilitating the entry of illegal immigrants into Britain.

Ipswich Crown Court heard the 27-year-old had used her English language skills to secure a yacht in Belgium to sail across the North Sea.

The court heard there were two other crew members and seven illegal immigrants on board the vessel.

Hugh Vass, prosecuting, said Gikiene had assured the yacht owner that she would not sail out of Belgian territorial waters towards Britain. However the yacht owner became suspicious and told her husband who was a Belgium police officer.

On June 26 the boat was seen on the River Orwell from the watchtower at Woolverstone, it was then spotted attempting to dock at Fox's Marina before sailing out to sea and towards Southwold.

When the boat was seized Gikiene pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

Naomi Perry, for Gikiene, said her client was of previous good character and had been co-operative with the police.

The court heard how Gikiene, who has a young son "wanted to better herself" as she could only earn £35 a month in Lithuania.

She was deported from this country earlier this year when her working visa ran out.

Judge John Devaux said: "I'm satisfied you were not one of the principals, you intended to enter this country illegally and possibly because of your knowledge of English you were recruited by the principals in this enterprise.

"Facilitating the entry of illegal immigrants is a serious problem and a prison sentence must follow."

He sentenced Gikiene to 15 months in prison and said after serving half the sentence in prison she would be deported.

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