Pilot charged over alleged people smuggling attempt

A 52-year-old pilot has been charged with attempting to fly illegal immigrants into the UK in his aircraft.

Richard Styles, of no fixed abode, was detained during an operation led by the National Crime Agency yesterday (Thursday, March 24) at Deenethorpe Airfield near Corby, in Northamptonshire.

He had just flown his twin-engine plane to the airfield from Belgium.

Northamptonshire Police officers, who were working with the NCA, stopped a taxi which had left the airfield on the Phoenix Parkway in Corby, arresting the driver and four Albanian nationals.

The operation was also supported by Border Force and Immigration Enforcement.

Both Styles and the taxi driver, a 42-year-old man from Tooting in South London, were questioned by NCA investigators.

Styles has now been charged with facilitating a breach of immigration law, and will appear before Northampton Magistrates tomorrow (Saturday, March 26).

The taxi driver has been bailed pending further enquiries.

The Albanian nationals, three men and a woman all aged between 21 and 64, remain detained under immigration powers.

NCA Regional Head of Investigations Jacque Beer said: “We know people smugglers use a range of methods to try and breach UK border controls and we remain alive to the threats.

“Working with our law enforcement partners we are determined to do all we can to stop them.

“The aviation and local community can play a vital role in preventing border crime, and whether you work in the aviation industry, are a keen pilot, or live locally, you should report any unusual or suspicious activity at a UK airfield or airport immediately.”

If you see anything unusual or suspicious you can call 0300 123 7000 and quote ‘PEGASUS’ or go to www.gov.uk/report-immigration-crime.

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