People smugglers who steered two boats of migrants jailed

Image source, Border Force
Image caption,
Azarkish claimed he was told if he steered the boat he could cross for free

Two men have been jailed for smuggling themselves and 23 other people across the Channel on two small boats.

Iraqi national Assad Abdul Latif Sayed Abdulghany, 30, and Iranian national Ali Azarkish, 23, were both sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment on Friday.

They had previously admitted assisting unlawful immigration into the UK.

Their convictions were secured at Canterbury Crown Court with the help of Border Force footage which showed the men in control of their vessels.

Abdulghany and Azarkish had their rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) intercepted at sea on 15 September.

'Irresponsible' actions

Abdulghany had attempted the crossing with 16 others, including six children, while Azarkish tried to bring seven people to the UK.

In his interview, Abdulghany claimed to have paid £4,000 for the crossing, the Home Office said.

Azarkish said he was told it was €2,500 (£2,240) to be smuggled to the UK by boat, but that if he steered, the journey would be free.

Image source, Border Force
Image caption,
Abdulghany had attempted the crossing with 16 other people, including six children

On Thursday last week, two Iranian men were sentenced to 24 months for attempting to cross the Channel with 29 people on two boats.

A week ago, four people, including two children, died when the boat they were on sank off the coast of northern France.

Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O'Mahoney said: "The tragic events of last week reinforces how critical it is to end the viability of the small boats route.

"Preventing any further loss of life is my priority."

All the jailed men will automatically be considered for deportation at the end of their sentences.

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