Gloating migrant who piloted small boat across the Channel is jailed for 38 months
An Egyptian man who took grinning selfies while piloting a small boat with 50 migrants on board across the Channel has been jailed.
Reda Hamoud Abdurabou 'gloated' as he took charge of the dangerously overcrowded vessel during an attempt to reach the UK in July 2022, Salisbury Crown Court heard.
The 25-year-old took pictures of himself on his mobile phone during the crossing, which would later be used as evidence by the Home Office's Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) unit.
The pictures were taken just moments before the dinghy was intercepted by Border Force and show Abdurabou posing with his hand on the tiller as he steered the boat towards the British coastline.
One selfie shows Abdurabou, wearing a yellow hoodie and a baseball cap, smiling as he sits at the stern of the boat. Investigating teams found the images, along with messages about his attempt to reach the UK, on his phone.
There were 50 people on board, including 24 Albanians and 15 Afghans, as well as some Syrian and Iraqi nationals. While some have gone onto successfully claim asylum in the UK, most have had their asylum applications withdrawn, or their whereabouts are unknown.
One of the males has since been convicted of cultivating cannabis and has been jailed for 16 months.
During a police interview, Abdurabou accepted that he had been piloting the boat for around an hour and a half, but claimed that others on board had also taken the leading role during their journey.
He also told officers he had previously made unsuccessful attempts to enter the UK unlawfully, including in a lorry.
Abdurabou was jailed for 38 months having been found guilty of assisting unlawful immigration to the UK and attempting to enter the country illegally. He will serve half of his sentence in custody and the rest on licence.
Hid Honour Judge Timothy Mousley KC told Abdurabou: 'This was not your first attempt to enter the UK unlawfully and that increases the sentence.
'You were identified as the person who steered the boat. When you were asked why you were coming to the UK, you said you were looking for a better life.
'In my opinion, that puts you into the category of an economic migrant.'