People smuggler who went on the run jailed

23 April 2018

A people smuggler from Northern Ireland, who went on the run in a bid to escape justice, has been jailed for nearly three years after specialist Immigration Enforcement officers caught up with him.

Lorry driver Terence McVarnock, 50, was stopped by Border Force officers on 28 July 2015 at the Freight Lanes, Dover Eastern Docks after arriving on a ferry from Calais. A search of the driver’s cabin area revealed a minor in the lower bunk area covered by a duvet. A further minor and adult man and woman were also discovered hidden the bunk area.


McVarnock was taken to Folkestone police station and during an interview under caution, denied any knowledge of the people hidden in his lorry. A further search of the vehicle revealed £2,800 hidden behind the dashboard stereo, and which McVarnock claimed was his life savings as he does not use banks. The money was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.


The investigation was passed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team and McVarnock was subsequently charged with assisting unlawful immigration into the UK.


He was bailed to appear at Folkestone Magistrates Court on 7 September 2015, where he pleaded not guilty. He was further bailed to appear at Canterbury Crown Court on the 23 November 2015 but failed to attend and a Crown Court bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

Since being at large McVarnock went to great lengths to avoid capture including changing his name by Deed Poll to Brody and frequently changing his rented addresses and vehicles.


Diligent work by the CFI team, which included forensic examination of public records and social media sites, revealed that McVarnock was living at an address in Glenavy Co. Antrim. It was here that McVarnock was arrested on 18 April, with assistance from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).


McVarnock appeared at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday, 20 April where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 28 months for facilitating illegal immigration and six months to run consecutively for bail offences.


Dave Magrath, from Immigration Enforcement’s CFI team, said:


“Although McVarnock took extreme measures to avoid facing up to his crimes, in the end the law caught up with him and he’s paying the price with his liberty.

“We work closely with Border Force colleagues and law enforcement such as the PSNI, to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration related criminality and this case should serve as a warning to anyone tempted to get involved with this kind of offending. We will catch you, however long this takes, and put you before the courts.”    


Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe, said,

“The Adults and minors were concealed in a cramped and uncomfortable section of the driver’s cab.
“People smugglers care little about the conditions in which they transport their human cargo, often putting the lives of others at risk.”

Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit


1       Terence McVarnock of Tullynewbank Road, Glenavy, Co Antrim, was charged with assisting unlawful immigration into the UK (contrary to Section 25 (1) & (6) of the Immigration Act and received 28 months imprisonment.

2       A confiscation hearing held at Folkestone Magistrates Court on the 29th July 2015 returned the £2,800 to the public purse.

3       The cases of the four people discovered in McVarnock’s lorry, who presented themselves as Albanian nationals, are being progressed by the Home Office in line with immigration rules.