Man who 'posed for selfies' while piloting small boat carrying 50 migrants across the channel jailed

Reda Hamoud Abdurabou, 25, was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court today (1 September) for assisting unlawful immigration to the UK. Credit: Home Office

A man who posed for selfies while piloting a small boat with 50 migrants on board has been jailed for three years and two months.

Reda Hamoud Abdurabou, 25, was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court today (1 September) after being found guilty of assisting unlawful immigration to the UK and attempting to enter the country illegally.

Abdurabou took charge of a dangerously overcrowded small boat during an attempt to reach the UK illegally in July 2022.

He took pictures of himself as he did so, saving images to his phone that would later be used as evidence by the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) unit.

The images were taken moments before the dinghy was intercepted by Border Force and show Abdurabou posing as he steered towards the UK. Credit: Home Office

Migrants were seen by officers balancing on the edge of the inflatable, with others sat on the floor of the boat where fuel-contaminated water often pools on top of makeshift flooring.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said: “This pilot brazenly tried to flout our laws, and has rightly been brought to justice today.

“Putting lives at risk by steering men, women and children across the Channel in flimsy dinghies will not be tolerated and we will continue to work relentlessly to stop these completely unnecessary crossings and ensure those responsible are put behind bars.”

The defendant, who was witnessed piloting the boat before it was intercepted, was arrested on arrival in the UK and his mobile phone was seized.

Immigration Enforcement officers worked quickly to interview, charge and remand Abdurabou on the day of his arrival. Credit: Home Office

Investigating teams found messages on his phone about his attempt to reach the UK illegally, along with the collection of selfies taken as he piloted the boat, putting dozens of lives in danger.

One selfie shows the defendant, wearing a yellow hoodie and a baseball cap, smiling as he sits at the stern of the boat perilously close to the waterline.

The Illegal Migration Act will see the Home Office give immigration officers new powers to search for and seize electronic devices like mobile phones, from people who come to the UK illegally.

The Home Office said the “This defendant gloated as he risked dozens of lives by crossing the Channel illegally." Credit: Home Office

Chris Foster, Deputy Director of Criminal and Financial Investigations at the Home Office, said: "Anyone willing to take the helm of these small boats can expect to be arrested and prosecuted.

“I want to praise the quick work of my officers who have brought this criminal to justice.

"His sentence shows that our teams are working relentlessly to clamp down on this illegal trade.”

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