Hammad Al Shamari, from Kuwait, was jailed for two years and six months (Picture: SWNS)
A migrant who tried to help smuggle 25 other asylum seekers, including children, into the UK has been jailed.
Hammad Al Shamari piloted an overcrowded inflatable boat across the Channel, from France to Dover, under cover of darkness on March 30.
The 36-year-old took more than two dozen people on the dangerous journey, including five young boys and one little girl.
He was jailed for two-and-a-half-years at Canterbury Crown Court after being found guilty of assisting unlawful immigration on November 26.
The court heard Al Shamari’s boat was intercepted by a Border Force Coastal Patrol Vessel after an immigration officer photographed him piloting it.
He is from Kuwait but is classified as a Bidoon – Arabic for ‘without nationality’.
Bidoons are a specific minority group considered to be ‘illegal residents’ by the Kuwaiti government, despite the fact that many of them have no ties to any other countries.
A Human Rights Watch report concluded in 1995: ‘Kuwait practices a system of institutionalized discrimination against its residents known as Bedoons, long-time inhabitants who have been denied Kuwaiti citizenship and are now being rendered stateless.’
The UK’s minister for justice and tackling illegal migration, Tom Pursglove, said: ‘These journeys are illegal, dangerous, and unnecessary.
‘Small boat pilots put the lives of everyone in their boat in mortal danger and it is right that we deter further attempts by bringing them to justice.
‘Just last month we saw the devastating consequences of attempting to cross the Channel.’
The British Government has repeatedly spoken out about the dangers of Channel crossings (stock picture) (Picture: Reuters)
Mr Pursglove was referred to the tragedy on November 24 when 27 people, including five women and one little girl, died after their boat sank in the Channel.
It is believed the group was travelling from Calais to the UK. French authorities have since arrested four suspected migrant smugglers.
The Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigation’s deputy director, David Fairclough, said: ‘These are extremely dangerous crossings and put lives at risk with every journey.
‘But they are only possible if there are people willing to pilot the vessels.
‘We have seen the fatal consequences of these crossings and we want to stop others from taking the helm in the future.’
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