Caersws man finds "asylum sneaker" in boot after trip to France

Reporter:

Keri Trigg

A Caersws man was shocked to discover he had brought home more than sweets and souvenirs from a trip to France.

When Paul Edmunds arrived back in Mid Wales after the long drive, he was gobsmacked to find a surprise passenger stowed away behind his luggage in the back of his Nissan truck.

Unbeknown to Paul, his wife Janet and friends Duncan and Kate Bennett, they had smuggled an Ethiopian migrant through the Eurotunnel, past UK border control, and all the way home.

“He was as quiet as a mouse until we got back to our friends’ house in Caersws,” said Mr Edmunds.

“I opened the boot and saw some trainers. They belonged to a pair of legs – an Ethiopian pair of legs.

“We were all taken aback obviously.”

The man did not say who he was, but was clearly happy to have arrived safely in the UK.

Mr Edmunds said: “He didn’t speak any English. We just communicated through gestures. I did ask where he had come from and he said Africa.

“He asked in broken English if he was in England, I said yes, well – Wales, and he made a prayer gesture.”

Paul rang the police immediately, and the 22-year-old stowaway was given some water and chocolate while he waited.

Mr Edmunds and his wife and friends had spent four days in France, visiting the World War One grave of Mrs Bennett’s great uncle.

They stopped at Calais for an hour on the return journey, and this is when Mr Edmunds believes the migrant sneaked into the truck.

“I was having a nap while my wife and our friends went for a coffee. I never left the vehicle at any time.

“We were in the secure zone, so he must have got into there at some point previously.

“We went through French and English customs and weren’t stopped at all.”

Back in the UK, he stayed hidden all the way from Dover to Caersws. After his 4,500-mile journey from Ethiopia, he had 15 minutes of freedom in the UK before police cars pulled up at the house.

The surprise visitor in Caersws made national TV news and the front page of The Sun, with the newspaper branding him ‘Asylum Sneaker’.

Mr Edmunds added: “It’s not what you expect to find in your boot after a holiday!”

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “At approximately 5.45pm on Sunday, September 18, Dyfed-Powys Police received a report of a suspicious man discovered in the back of a van in Caersws, Powys.

“The van had just returned home from a journey that had passed through Calais and Dover. The 22-year-old man from Ethiopia was arrested and handed over to immigration officers.”

Email:

keri.trigg@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the County Times

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