Cross-Channel people smuggler jailed for shipping migrants

Sarbast Mohamad Hama and the boat he was found in Image copyright Home Office
Image caption Sarbast Mohamad Hama has been jailed for people smuggling

A people smuggler caught shipping migrants across the English Channel in an inflatable boat has been jailed.

Sarbast Mohamad Hama was discovered on the boat with 13 migrants on 27 March when it was intercepted by Border Force officials near Folkestone, Kent.

An investigation found Hama had been involved in another smuggling attempt in December last year.

The 31-year-old pleaded guilty to assisting unlawful immigration at Lewes Crown Court.

Hama, of no fixed UK address, was jailed for three years and four months.

Immigration Enforcement's Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) found Hama, an Iraqi national, was on the boat alongside two young children close to Folkestone.

He had also been encountered during a similar incident off the coast of Deal on Christmas Day in 2018 with 10 other Iraqi nationals.

On this occasion he presented himself as an Iranian national and submitted an immigration application which was ongoing.

CFI inquiries revealed the boat used was bought from a watersports shop in the Netherlands and paid for in cash.

Hama was also spotted on CCTV buying boat motors and lifejackets, and was seen changing the number plates on his car outside the shop.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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