Oxford Pair Convicted For Baby Smuggling

17 April 2013, 14:24 | Updated: 17 April 2013, 14:27

An Oxfordshire couple have avoided jail after they tried to smuggle a baby out of Nigeria.

Gladys Effa-Heap, 52, and Simon Heap, 47, both from Wayneflete Road in Headington flew out to Nigeria in July 2010.

They claimed Mrs Effa-Heap had given birth within days of arriving in the country and tried to apply for a passport at the British High Commission in Lagos.

They faked a birth certificate to try and trick authorities.

But staff became suspicious and DNA tests later confirmed that neither of them was related to the baby girl.

They pleaded guilty to a breach of immigration law and have been sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and 250 hours of community services.

Head of Heathrow Border Force, Marc Owen, said: “This was a shocking case where a couple attempted to pass someone else’s baby off as their own in an attempt to bring it to the UK.

“Thanks to the close co-operation between Border Force, the Metropolitan Police and staff at the British High Commission they were stopped and we were able to bring them to justice.”

Detective Inspector Kate Bridger, who leads a child protection team, added: “A child should not be treated as a commodity to be bought and sold.

“This couple attempted to circumvent the adoption system and deceive the authorities.

“That system is in place to protect children and we will do all we can to bring to justice those who try and get round it in this kind of way.”