People smuggler jailed for four years after yacht with six illegal immigrants onboard ran aground in Orford
PUBLISHED: 14:06 26 July 2017 | UPDATED: 19:55 26 July 2017
A 48-year-old people smuggler who tried to help six illegal immigrants enter Britain through Suffolk has been jailed for four years.
Hennadii Kurtoglu was charged with assisting illegal entry into the UK after he was found on a 28-foot sailing yacht with six illegal immigrants on the River Ore, near Orford, following reports the yacht was struggling in strong winds.
The UK Coastguard, RNLI lifeboat crews, Suffolk police and UK Border Agency all attended and seven people, including Kurtoglu, were arrested, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Kurtoglu initially pleaded not guilty to assisting illegal entry but today changed his plea to guilty.
Jailing him for four years, Judge Martyn Levett said the shoreline in the area of Bawdsey and Orford was remote with miles of isolated beaches.
He said that as a result of patrols on short routes from Europe being stepped up, those involved in people smuggling had used longer crossings, with East Anglia becoming a favourite target to land illegal immigrants.
He said Kurtoglu would have succeeded in bringing the illegal immigrants into the UK if his boat hadn’t been blown on to a mudbank by high winds.
In addition to jailing Kurtoglu, Judge Levett made a forfeiture order for his yacht.
Alan Compton, prosecuting, said at 8.30am on April 30 a small sailing yacht was spotted struggling near Orford and was approached by the coastguard.
There had been no communication by the boat and as the coastguard approached people were seen going below and the hatches closed.
Kurtoglu initially claimed the four men and two women on board were crew and that they had been blown off course while travelling to Spain which was clearly a lie, said Mr Compton.
He said two of the men on board had previously tried to enter the UK.
Andrew Thompson, for Kurtoglu, said his client had no previous convictions and had three children in Ukraine.
He said Kurtoglu had purchased the boat for a discounted price on the basis he would take six passengers on a trip and it was only during the course of the crossing he understood what was going on.