A Kuwaiti man who illegally steered a dinghy filled with 11 illegal immigrants across the Channel to the UK has been jailed. 

Mahmoud Al Anzi, 24, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison at Canterbury Crown Court yesterday (19th February) after a three-day long trial. 

Mahmoud is the ninth person to be jailed this year in relation to steering small boats illegally across the Channel. The man denied the charges but was found guilty. 

On the 10th of June, a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) travelling from France to the UK was intercepted by a Border Force vessel. Members of the Border Force stated the dinghy was white and blue and a man in a distinctive red jumper was clearly piloting the vessel. 

A French vessel identified Mahmoud as the person piloting the dinghy. 

The illegal immigrants who were passengers were transferred to the Border Force vessel and taken to Dover where they were then processed and taken to a hotel. 

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

Dan O’Mahoney the Clandestine Channel Threat Commander 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.”

Chris Philp the immigration minister 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.” 

Nine people have been convicted for this crime so far. Which is only a very small minority of these illegal crossings. Almost 8,500 people crossed the Channel illegally last year.  

Over 61,000 are currently living in ‘Home Office accommodation’ such as hotels, immigration centres and guest houses.  

Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously.

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