An eagle-eyed motorist caught 12 illegal immigrants trying to sneak into Britain in the back of a FREEZER lorry – when he was stuck behind it in a motorway traffic jam.
Roger Furnell, 52, pulled to a halt on the M1 when he heard loud banging noises coming from inside a German HGV.
Intrigued, the heating engineer manoeuvered his Hyundai i40 behind the seven-tonne freezer truck and saw its back doors flexing as if they were being forced open.
Roger immediately called police who asked him to tail the lorry while they despatched a team of officers up the crowded M1.
He followed the German Norfrost lorry for two junctions until three police cars arrived and directed the HGV into Watford Gap services, Northants.
Dad-of-five Roger carried on with his journey but later learned that the police had found 12 illegal Middle Eastern stowaways on board.
Roger was making his way home from Hatfield, Herts., to his home in Stourbridge, West Mids., when he spotted the lorry at 2.45pm last Friday.
He said: “I was about to pull off the motorway for a nap when I heard the most deafening noise.
“It sounded like a train going over railway tracks.
“The noise continued and I became intrigued, so I managed to get behind the lorry when we started moving again, where I could see the doors flexing as though there was someone inside trying to get out.
“Whoever it was appeared to be knocking seven bells of hell out of the lorry.
“I realised something wasn’t right so I rang the police to report it.
“The police called back and asked me to keep following the vehicle, while giving a running commentary to them at the same time.
“I followed it past two junctions until three police cars arrived and directed the lorry into Watford Gap Services in Northamptonshire.
“I was asked not to follow the lorry and carried on my journey – but the police phoned me back later and told me they’d discovered 12 illegal immigrants in the back of it and they were questioning the driver.
“It certainly broke the monotony of the journey.
“I’d been up since 4am, so I was just getting to a jaded point when it happened.
“Needless to say I didn’t feel like sleeping after all that, it certainly woke me up, it was a little bit surreal, almost like being in a detective film.
“And it beats a game of ‘I Spy’ for passing time in the traffic.”
Northamptonshire Police said the driver of the lorry was released without charge.
A spokesman for the force added: “We always encourage people to contact police if they notice any suspicious activity, by calling 999 if a crime is in progress or 101 for non emergencies.”
The Home Office confirmed 12 people – ten from Iran, one from Syria and one from Afghanistan – were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences after Northamptonshire Police searched a lorry at Watford Gap.
Six were later released on immigration bail while their cases are dealt with, four remain in immigration detention and two have been assessed as minors and passed into the care of social services.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “When suspected illegal immigrants found on lorries are arrested by police, we respond quickly.
“We work closely with police to tackle illegal immigration. Where someone is found to have no legal right to remain in the UK we will take action to remove them.”