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Two migrants picked up in the Channel before being given hotel rooms to live in at the taxpayers’ expense are jailed for illegally entering the UK


Two migrants picked up while trying to cross the Channel and given hotel rooms at taxpayers’ expense have been jailed for attempting to enter the UK illegally.

Rashed Abdullah, 34, who is from Sudan, and Egyptian Ramadn Refaiy, 26, were sentenced to 16 months and a year behind bars respectively.

Adullah had previously been caught attempting to reach the UK as a stowaway in a lorry, while Refaiy said he was seeking NHS treatment.

But a judge was told that – bizarrely – the men did not face automatic deportation once they were released despite both admitting the offence.

The case comes following a crackdown on migrants risking their lives to make the perilous crossing from France as part of Rishi Sunak’s pledge to ‘Stop the boats’.

Pictured: Egyptian Ramadn Refaiy, 26, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for illegally crossing the Channel

 Pictured: Egyptian Ramadn Refaiy, 26, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for illegally crossing the Channel

Pictured: Rashed Abdullah, 34, who is from Sudan was sentenced to 16 months behind bars for trying to illegally enter the UK

Pictured: Rashed Abdullah, 34, who is from Sudan was sentenced to 16 months behind bars for trying to illegally enter the UK 

Ministers say legislation introduced last year – before Mr Sunak became PM – which means anyone who arrives in the UK without proper permission is committing a crime resulting in to up to four years in prison will serve as a much-needed deterrent.

However refugee groups say desperate people fleeing conflict-torn countries such as Sudan have no legal alternative that would enable them to enter Britain and claim asylum, with claims the new law ‘demonises’ them.

A BBC investigation last December found that just 0.3 per cent of approximately 29,400 people who had arrived in small boats since the new law was introduced had been arrested for arriving illegally in the UK.

The two men separately attempted to cross the Channel in August this year, in inflatables packed with over 50 migrants each, a court heard.

Abdullah, who had travelled to northern France via Italy, told Border Force officers that he attempted to reach the UK in a lorry last year and had lied about his identity when interviewed, according to the Home Office.

Refaiy – who had been piloting the overcrowded vessel – admitted that he had planned to work illegally in the UK, it said.

Pictured: Refaiy getting off the small boat in Kent after being picked up by UK Border Force

Pictured: Refaiy getting off the small boat in Kent after being picked up by UK Border Force

Both defendant arrived on boats packed with around 50 migrants

Both defendant arrived on boats packed with around 50 migrants

Shocking images taken by Border Force officers show his boat packed with dozens of migrants sat in front of dangerous fuel cans.

A small child without a life jacket can be seen sitting on the floor of the boat, where fuel-contaminated water can pool on top of makeshift flooring.

Both men were jailed at Chester Crown Court this week after they pleaded guilty to attempting to arrive in the UK illegally.

The pair were intercepted by UK Border Force officials before being taken to a holding facility in Kent, the court heard.

Fingerprint checks revealed that Abdullah had attempted to enter the country illegally last year in the back of a lorry before he was found in Calais.

However on that occasion he gave a different name and claimed to be from Eritrea.

Abdullah sought indefinite leave to remain in the UK and was transported more than 200 miles and put up at a Holiday Inn in Warrington, Cheshire where he was interviewed by immigration officers.

There he admitted both attempts to enter the UK, saying he had left Sudan, travelling through safe countries where he could have sought asylum, including Italy and France.

Meanwhile Refaiy had been piloting the vessel on which he attempted to cross the Channel, according to photographs taken of the boat.

However when Border Force officials approached, he changed position.

Pictured: Contents left in a small boat after rescue from UK Border Force

Pictured: Contents left in a small boat after rescue from UK Border Force

After being rescued and interviewed, he was housed at the four star Daresbury Park Hotel, also in Cheshire.

Refaiy said he had been given a ‘half price discount’ of 800 euros by people smugglers in exchange for steering.

He claimed he had left Egypt to seek medical treatment on the NHS due to being in pain having had a kidney removed and sought asylum.

But he also admitted that he had planned to work illegally in the UK, and the court was told that a ‘no reasonable grounds decision’ had been made in his case.

The court was told that Abdullah had been a ‘civil rights activist’ and gave a false name when he first attempted Britain because he was ‘afraid of what would happen to him’.

Refaiy claimed to be fleeing ‘persecution’ in Egypt, saying his family were singled out after the country’s government seized their farmland to build on.

Abdullah admitted knowingly attempting to arrive in the UK without a valid entry clearance. Refaiy admitted arriving in the UK without a valid entry clearance.

However while courts have power in certain cases to order the automatic deportation of foreign offenders once they have completed their sentence, the court heard the crime they had admitted was not one of them.

Instead, the Home Office said it would be working ‘to identify whether both criminals can be returned to their countries of origin’.

A BBC investigation last December found that just 0.3 per cent of approximately 29,400 people who had arrived in small boats since the new law was introduced had been arrested for arriving illegally in the UK

A BBC investigation last December found that just 0.3 per cent of approximately 29,400 people who had arrived in small boats since the new law was introduced had been arrested for arriving illegally in the UK 

Pictures from the Channel show increasingly precarious boats being sent into one of the world's most dangerous shipping lanes as human smugglers continue to show a disregard for life

Pictures from the Channel show increasingly precarious boats being sent into one of the world’s most dangerous shipping lanes as human smugglers continue to show a disregard for life

Sentencing them, the judge, Recorder Lawrence McDonald, commented that ‘people smugglers’ who ‘profit from the death and desperation of others’ were ‘deserving of the most serious punishment’.

But despite neither Abdullah nor Refaiy being accused of masterminding the crossing attempt, he told them there was ‘huge public concern about people smuggler activity, and rightly so’.

‘There is the risk of death and injury that each of you ran on your own behalf, but there is also the risk of death and injury to other passengers in those overcrowded boats and to those whose duty it is to intercept and/or rescue people,’ the judge said.

‘Each of you knew that you were deliberately attempting to break the laws of this country.

‘Each of you knew that you were trying to arrive in the UK in an unlawful manner – nobody can possibly claim otherwise.’

Afterwards Tony Hilton, assistant director of the Home Office Criminal and Financial Investigation Unit, said: ‘These criminals put themselves and others in grave danger to reach the UK, having already passed through multiple safe European countries.

‘It is right that they have been brought to justice today.

‘We’re doing everything we can to stop the boats and prosecute those who enter our country illegally.’

According to the Home Office, the number of people detected crossing the English Channel in the year to October was down by a quarter compared to 2022.



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