Practical Boat Owner: A murder suspect has appeared in court after being arrested along with 17 suspected Albanian migrants, after a catamaran was detained at Chichester Marina.
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘Stephen Andrew Jackson, 50, of no fixed address, appeared at Crawley Magistrates Court yesterday, Wednesday 25 May, charged with facilitating illegal entry into the UK.
‘He did not enter a plea and was remanded in custody to appear at Portsmouth Crown Court on 24 June.
‘The extradition matter in relation to the European Arrest Warrant from the Spanish authorities will be dealt with following the conclusion of legal proceedings in relation to the facilitation charge.
‘Nine of the Albanian men appeared at Crawley Magistrates Court yesterday charged with attempted illegal entry into the UK. All nine pleaded guilty.
‘Eight were sentenced to eight weeks in prison and one was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison. They will all be removed from the UK at the end of their sentences.
‘The other eight Albanian men remain detained pending their removal from the UK.
‘The catamaran has been seized and a court application has been made for its forfeiture. The application will be heard at the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.’
The discovery comes after the National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed last month that migrants trying to reach the UK are paying smuggling gangs up to £13,500 for their journey, some are believed to have spent as much as £12,000 to travel from France in inflatable boats.
Investigators suspect that, as well as the main Channel crossing between Calais and Dover, criminals may be using less busy ports in the UK, including Tilbury, Purfleet, Hull, Immingham and Newhaven.
The arrests followed a tip off by the Hampshire Police Marine Unit, who were attending another incident in the Solent on Monday afternoon when they spotted the catamaran that they had suspicions about.
Officers intercepted the vessel, which had travelled from France, and spoke to the British man on board but were unable to board due to the poor weather conditions.
They found out that the catamaran was heading to Chichester Harbour and informed Sussex Police.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: ‘Police arrested a 55-year-old man – a UK passport holder – and 17 Albanian nationals aboard a yacht at Chichester Marina shortly before 10pm on Monday (23 May).
‘The arrests were made by Sussex Police after Hampshire Police alerted us about the yacht arriving at the marina. The case is now being investigated by the Home Office Immigration Enforcement.’