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Man who steered a boat of asylum seekers across the Channel is jailed

A man who risked his own life and those of 11 others by steering an over-crowded boat across the Channel to Kent has been jailed.

Kuwaiti Mahmoud Al Anzi, 24, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison at Canterbury Crown Court yesterday at the end of an three-day trial and is the ninth person to be jailed this year in relation to steering a small boat.

Border Force officers intercepted the boat. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher
Border Force officers intercepted the boat. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher

He had denied a charge of assisting unlawful immigration to the UK.

On June 10, a blue and white rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) travelling from France to the UK was intercepted by a Border Force coastal patrol vessel.

Crew members could see the boat was being driven by a man in a distinctive red jumper and a French vessel identified Al Anzi as the pilot.

The boat's passengers were transferred to the cutter and taken to Dover where photographs of them were taken as they disembarked. The picture of Al Anzi showed him wearing a red jumper.

The investigation was passed to Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation team and, the next day Al Anzi was arrested on suspicion of assisting unlawful immigration to the UK.

Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney said: “Steering a vessel like this, for any duration of its journey across the Channel, is a criminal offence. It puts lives in danger and there is no excuse for doing so.

“These crossings are only possible if someone is willing to pilot the vessel and we want to deter people from taking the helm. That is why we will continue to pursue those who do so and ensure that their reckless actions have serious consequences.”

Border Force Picture: National Crime Agency
Border Force Picture: National Crime Agency

Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp added: “We are working day and night to stop the crossings, control our borders, and return those who enter our country illegally.

“Our work with French counterparts, which includes improved intelligence sharing and increased patrols in northern France, is making crossing the Channel harder than ever. More than three quarters of attempted crossings have been prevented so far this month.

"As this case shows, we are also going after the people involved in facilitating this criminal trade and Immigration Enforcement investigations have already secured nine convictions this year."

Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.

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