2 women holdall
Two women were found in a holdall in the car of Wendy Thomas, 50, from Cardiff in South Wales, in October 2016 at the Eurotunnel terminal in France. Home Office

A woman has been jailed after being caught attempting to smuggle three people, including two women in a holdall, into the UK through the Eurotunnel terminal.

Wendy Thomas was apprehended at the UK border controls at the Eurotunnel terminal in Coquelles, France, when officers found the two women in the boot of her car.

The 50-year-old had also attempted to smuggle a man into the UK by throwing a quilt over him as he lay on the floor in the foot well of her car.

After Thomas' arrest on 9 October 2016 two of the stowaways were found to be unresponsive and were rushed to hospital.

Thomas pleaded guilty to one count of assisting illegal immigration and was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court to two years and nine months in prison.

Thomas, from Cardiff, South Wales, was sentenced alongside co-conspirators Adriano Bettoja-Allen, 37, and his wife Jeanette, 49, for their parts in two separate attempts to smuggle people into the UK.

An investigation was launched by police after British national Dawood Shahbeik was arrested at St Pancras International station when he arrived on the Eurostar from Calais on 2 October 2016.

After analysing his mobile phone officers found references to a person who had been transported to a house in Newport, South Wales.

thomas Bettoja-Allen
Wendy Thomas (L) and Adriano Bettoja-Allen (R) have been jailed for attempting to smuggle people into the UK. Home Office

Shahbeik was also in possession of a damaged Iranian passport and a large amount of cash, a Home Office spokeswoman said.

Shahbeik had been in contact with Thomas and both of them had swapped text messages with Adriano.

Police discovered that Thomas and Adriano had travelled on the same Eurotunnel train but in separate vehicles from Folkestone, Kent, to Coquelles, France, on 8 October.

The court heard that Adriano returned to the UK less than two hours after Thomas had been arrested by Border Force officers.

Financial checks revealed that a large deposit had been paid into Thomas' bank account in the month before she was arrested.

Adriano was jailed for five years after admitting two counts of assisting illegal immigration while his wife Jeanette was sentenced to 11 months suspended for two years, 150 hours unpaid work, and a curfew after pleading guilty to assisting illegal immigration three days into her trial.

Shahbeik was sentenced to 18 months in prison after admitting one count of assisting illegal immigration at an earlier hearing.