03 JAN 2020
A UK court has sentenced four stowaways to long jail terms for threatening the crew of the con/ro Grande Tema off the Thames Estuary in 2018. The men were convicted of the crime of affray at London’s Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) last November.
In December 2018, the defendants – Samuel Jolumi, 27, Ishola Sunday, 28, Toheeb Popoola, 27, and Joberto McGee, 20 – were discovered by the Grande Tema’s crew and placed in quarantine while the vessel was under way from Lagos, Nigeria to Tilbury, UK. On the morning of December 21, five days after their discovery and confinement, the stowaways allegedly broke free and demanded to be taken ashore in the United Kingdom.
Grande Tema’s 27 crewmembers locked themselves on the bridge to ensure their own security and alerted the authorities. While the stowaways threatened them from outside the bridge, the crew filmed the men making “cut-throat” gestures, brandishing metal poles and taking up fighting stances.
That night, a team from the Royal Marines Special Boat Service boarded the Grande Tema by helicopter and arrested the stowaways. No one was injured in the 25-minute operation to regain control of the ship.
After arrest, all four were charged with attempted hijacking and affray, a UK offense consisting of using or threatening to use unlawful violence. At trial, they were cleared of the hijacking charge and convicted of affray. Popoola and McGee were also convicted of making threats to kill.
McGee, the alleged ringleader, received a jail sentence of 32 months, and Popoola was sentenced to 31 months. Sunday and Jolumi received sentences of 16 months each.