Egyptian fisherman tried to sneak 50 migrants into the UK
An alleged people smuggler attempted to sneak 50 migrants into the UK on an 'overloaded' small dinghy - in return for not having to pay the £1,700 fee to cross the English Channel himself, a court has heard.
Hamouda Chitioui's vessel was intercepted six miles off the Kent coastline as part of a plan to 'breach immigration laws', jurors were told.
Prosecutors have alleged that the 34-year-old Egyptian fisherman, who was trying to get to Britain himself, offered to pilot the boat across the Channel from France.
The majority of the migrants making the crossing on June 29 last year were from Afghanistan, while others were from other countries including Albania, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan.
As well as skippering the vessel, Chitioui was seen striking other passengers with his hand for not disembarking quickly enough on to the Border Force boat that intercepted them, the court heard.
He denies assisting unlawful immigration to the UK, claiming he paid his way as a passenger and simply helped pilot the Rigid Inflatable Boat [RIB] when the driver fell ill.
Prosecutor Mr Bunting said an investigation showed Chitioui had 'planned' the trip some weeks before.
Messages from June 8, 2022, obtained from Chitioui's WhatsApp showed him telling another individual he 'agreed' to pilot the boat.
In one message, he said: 'I want to go, I am a captain, I am originally a fisherman.'
Mr Bunting said: 'This is him offering his service because the driver does not pay. He agreed to pilot the boat for free passage to the UK.
'This is a clear indication that several weeks before the crossing he was arranging it and offering his services in order to avoid having to pay, like someone in his position would have had to do.'
Chitioui denies assisting unlawful immigration to the UK. However, he has admitted an alternative count of attempted entry to the UK.