British couple held for two days in Calais after migrant is found in car boot

9 September 2019, 17:19 | Updated: 11 September 2019, 10:21

The couple think that the boy got into their car due to faulty locks on the doors
The couple think that the boy got into their car due to faulty locks on the doors. Picture: PA
Maddie Goodfellow

By Maddie Goodfellow

A British couple say they were detained by French police for two days after a 16-year-old boy was discovered in the boot of their car as they were boarding the ferry to Dover.

Sam Hemmingway said he and his fiancée Jordan Valentine were returning to the UK after celebrating their engagement.

Mr Hemmingway explained that the couple had no idea the boy was in their car, stating that it had faulty locks which could have allowed the boy to break in.

He said: "I was just as shocked as the police were to find him there."

Mr Hemmingway and Ms Valentine were taken to a police station in Calais to be questioned.

The couple were informed that the stowaway was an Iranian boy, and that he had been released on the same day he was found in their car.

When they arrived at the police station, the couple were told that they were entitled to a phone call, legal advice and a doctor.

Mr Hemmingway said that despite accepting all three, none of these were actually provided by police.

He continued: "The whole two-and-a-half days we were in custody, they didn't offer us anything to eat or drink, and they didn't offer Jordan any feminine hygiene products."

He also said that Ms Valentine was not provided with medication that she needed.

After police checked the car at the port, it was found that the locking system was easily compromised and they were released with all charges against them dropped.

Mr Hemingway said: "We spoke to the French consulate, and they explained that because they never read us our rights after the detainment was extended, they held us illegally."

"We didn't get any apology, the consulate didn't help us at all ... When we got back we sold the car. That was the thing that caused us so much trouble and we didn't want it any more," he continued.

Mr Hemingway said that their story should be a warning for British tourists to check their cars before travelling.

He explained: "We both decided that the more people who hear our story, the more people are going to be aware of silly mistakes. We didn't check our car, you don't think to check your car."

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated: "Our consular staff offered advice to two British people arrested and subsequently released in France in June."

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