Essex

Thames Estuary cargo ship 'stowaways' appear in court

Grande Tema cargo vessel Image copyright Farid Mernissi/Wikipedia
Image caption The Grande Tema was due to dock at Tilbury

Four alleged stowaways found on a cargo ship in the Thames Estuary have appeared in court charged with affray.

Members of the Special Boat Service (SBS) boarded and secured The Grande Terma at 23:00 GMT on 21 December and the men were detained.

The prosecution said the men had threatened crew members with poles and told them to get closer to the coast.

The vessel had set sail from Lagos, Nigeria, for Tilbury, Essex, on 10 December.

The trial has been adjourned until 18 January at Southend Magistrates' Court.

Samuel Jolumi, 26, Ishola Sunday, 27, Taheeb Popoola, 26, and Joberto McGee, 20, did not enter a plea to the charge during their appearance before Chelmsford magistrates.

GPS trackers showed the 71,000-tonne ship sailing in circles in the Thames Estuary.

Grimaldi Group, which owns the vessel, said the four men were discovered on board four days before the incident.

They were put under surveillance in a cabin but allegedly escaped and made threats to the ship's master as the vessel approached Tilbury, urging him to get close to the coast.

Image copyright Marinetraffic.com
Image caption A map showing the Grande Tema in the Thames Estuary at 17:00 GMT

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