WATCH: Ballerina turned people smuggler jailed for bringing six men into UK at Hayling Island

Grinning people smugglers who landed themselves in hot water were left deflated after they were jailed for attempting to smuggle six Ukrainian people into the UK.

Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 12:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 12:44 pm
Vladyslav Kurtoglu and Dmytro Kriuk who were jailed at Portsmouth Crown Court

Dmytro Kriuk, 29, and Vladyslav Kurtoglu, 50, were sent to three years and nine months and six years in jail respectively at Portsmouth Crown Court after they were caught in a yacht at Hayling Island by Border Force in May last year.

Kriuk - who took a grinning selfie while on the Tazik yacht - admitted assisting unlawful immigration at an earlier hearing.

Vladyslav Kurtoglu, 50, was convicted of the same offence after a trial. The pair were caught near Sparkes Marina. The six other men were arrested and removed from the UK.

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Vladyslav Kurtoglu and Dmytro Kriuk who were jailed at Portsmouth Crown Court

Prosecutor Philip Meredith told the court how there had been ‘significant planning and resources’ invested into the botched illegal people smuggling voyage.

Forged documents were also used over the authenticity of the boat and right to sail to the UK.

The vessel left France before it was tracked in the Solent where it failed to respond to attempts to pull it over.

When the yacht was finally apprehended there were six Ukrainians on board as well as the two defendants.

An unidentified man being led from a boat at Sparkes Marina. Picture: Tanya Farne

A similar case involving Kurtoglu’s brother Hanndii had resulted in him also being caught in Suffolk and sent to prison.

Davey Leathey, defence barrister for Kurtoglu, a former ballerina who was the driving force behind the operation, said the voyage was an ‘isolated crime’ that did not yield any commercial gain.

Judge Stephen Climie said: ‘This was an attempt to bring illegal immigrants into the UK. It was well organised and was primarily organised by you Kurtoglu in a fashion that saw this vessel purchased for this attempt.

‘It is clear there was no legitimacy on board the vessel and the offence was substantial.’

Dmytro Kriuk grinning on the yacht

The judge added: ‘I accept this was a single incident though it was capable of repetition.

‘Of those transported there was no suggestion of a humanitarian enterprise with those on board not friends or relatives.’

Lyn Sari is from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation team.

She said: 'This was a carefully planned criminal operation.

Vladyslav Kurtoglu and Dmytro Kriuk who were jailed at Portsmouth Crown Court

'Evidence showed that Kriuk and Kurtoglu had plotted the route into Hayling Island in advance and that they had scouted the embarkation point to ensure they could get people on board away from security cameras.

'They had even laid a trail of fake paperwork in an attempt to cover their tracks.

'The relaxed selfie that Kriuk took en route to the UK is indicative of how confident they were of success. A confidence that no doubt quickly ebbed away when they were intercepted by our Border Force colleagues.

'My officers are specialists in uncovering crimes involving abuse of the UK’s immigration laws and work closely with other law enforcement partners such as the National Crime Agency to bring offenders like Kriuk and Kurtoglu to justice.'

Doug Mclellan, Head of the Border Force Martime Command, added: 'The coastal patrol vessel Alert moved swiftly to intercept the Tazik as it headed towards the UK’s coastline last May.

'Kriuk informed officers that there were four people on board and that this was "just a trip" which was far from the truth.

An unidentified man being led from a boat at Sparkes Marina. Picture: Tanya Farne

'Six people were discovered crammed onto the small vessel, including two hidden in the lower decks.

'Coastal patrol vessels carry out regular patrols of UK waters, and Border Force’s interventions in this case led directly to the prosecution of a pair of people smugglers intent on breaking the UK’s immigration laws.'

Dmytro Kriuk grinning on the yacht