People smugglers who brought six Ukrainians into Hayling Island on yacht face jail

An unidentified man being led from a Border Force vessel at Sparkes Marina in Hayling Island in May 2017. Picture: Tanya Farne
An unidentified man being led from a Border Force vessel at Sparkes Marina in Hayling Island in May 2017. Picture: Tanya Farne
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Two men who smuggled six Ukrainians into the UK on board a yacht are facing jail.

Vladyslav Kurtoglu, 50, was convicted of assisting unlawful immigration at Portsmouth Crown Court.

His co-conspirator, Dmytro Kruik, 29, had earlier pleaded guilty to the same offence.

The pair were caught at Hayling Island on May 20 last year aboard their yacht, the Tazik.

It was intercepted by a Border Force coastal patrol vessel.

The yacht had been sailing to the UK from Barfleur, France.

Border Force hailed the vessel and escorted it to Sparkes Marina and found six Ukrainian men on board.

All six Ukrainian men have since been removed from the UK.

Kurtoglu was confirmed as the captain with Kruik as his deck hand, the Home Office said.

Kruik told officers they had been travelling on ‘just a trip’.

But his phone contained a reconnaissance video from a harbour side in Barneville-Carteret to a nearby car park, where it is believed the immigrants were dropped off and boarded the boat.

Kruik could be heard saying there are no CCTV cameras in the area on the video, dated April 21, 2017,

The yacht had been registered and insured using false details.

Lyn Sari, from CFI, said: ‘The video on Kruik’s phone is indicative of the planning and organisation that went into this attempt.

‘I cannot think of a reason why you would record such a film and comment approvingly on the lack of security cameras unless your intentions were criminal.

‘Kurtoglu’s unlikely defence was readily undermined by mechanical and meteorological evidence.

‘The reality was that these men were engaged in a quite deliberate attempt to undermine the UK’s immigration laws.

‘My officers work closely with other law enforcement partners, such as the National Crime Agency who provided valuable assistance with this investigation, to bring people smugglers like Kurtoglu and Kruik to justice. Anyone involved in this kind of offending should understand that the consequences are considerable.’

The Home Office said Kurtoglu claimed in his defence that after he purchased the yacht, he planned to hold his 50th birthday party on board and wanted to employ the Ukrainians as crew for the event.

He claimed a huge storm had developed and the yacht had engine problems, with the crew turning on him forcing him to come to the UK.

Experts found that there were no problems with the yacht and conditions had been calm.

The boat will now be sold and any cash raised returned to government.