Man jailed for piloting inflatable boat carrying 70 migrants who were rescued off Kent Coast

Howmalow Mawum-Duop, 22, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Credit: National Crime Agency

A young man from Sudan has been jailed after 70 migrants were rescued from the Channel off the Kent coast.

Howmalow Mawum-Duop, 22, was found to have piloted the inflatable boat when it was intercepted by UK Border Force on September 26.

The large rigid hulled inflatable boat was travelling to the UK from Northern France, near Sangatte. It was carrying over 70 people.

Mawum-Duop was spotted in control of the steering and turned off the engine. He attempted to move away from the tiller as the Border Force vessel approached.

He was later identified due to his distinctive clothing and arrested by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers and charged with immigration offences.

In an interview, he said left Sudan in February 2021 and passed through Chad, Libya, Tunisia and Italy on his way to France.

Despite originally arguing that he had not been in control of the vessel at any time, or asked for payment from any of the individuals aboard, he later pleaded guilty to facilitating illegal immigration.

He was sentenced to 18 months in jail on February 2, at Canterbury Crown Court.

The National Crime Agency also said the boat had earlier been involved in an incident on a French beach, which led to the death of a woman who was thought to be trying to board the vessel.

The investigation into the death of the female migrant, which is being led by the French authorities is continuing.

NCA Senior Investigating Officer, Kathryn Philpott, said:

"Tackling people smuggling is one of the highest priorities for the National Crime Agency, and we are determined that individuals who put other people’s lives at risk in pursuit of profit are held accountable.

"Working closely with our partners in France, we were able to stop this boat off the coast of England, safeguard those aboard and ensure that Mawum-Duop was brought to justice."

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