Ukrainian pair jailed for bid to smuggle six immigrants into UK

A former ballet dancer and a chef have been jailed for attempting to smuggle six Ukrainians into the UK on board a yacht.

Vladyslav Kurtoglu, 50, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment at Portsmouth Crown Court after being convicted of assisting unlawful immigration.

His co-conspirator, Dmytro Kruik, 29, was jailed for three years and nine months, having pleaded guilty to the same offence.

The men, both Ukrainian nationals, were caught when their yacht, the Tazik, was intercepted by a Border Force coastal patrol vessel (CPV) near Hayling Island in Hampshire, having sailed from Barfleur in north-western France on May 20 2017.

Kruik, a chef, told Border Force officers that they had come to the UK on what he said was "just a trip" but a search of the vessel found six additional Ukrainian men on board, who were later removed from the UK.

Dmytro Kruik takes a selfie on board the Tazik (Home Office/PA)
Dmytro Kruik takes a selfie on board the Tazik (Home Office/PA)

Philip Meredith, prosecuting, said: "This was a sophisticated attempt to bring illegal immigrants into the UK which involved considerable planning and research.

"It involved an attempt of an easily repeatable method discovered by the interception of Border Force officers."

Mr Meredith said the pair had told the Border Force officers they had intended to return to France but poor weather had forced them to seek harbour in the UK.

But a navigation app was found on Kruik's phone which had a course set from France to Hayling Island and the weather conditions were "perfect sailing conditions", Mr Meredith said.

The navigation app found on Dmytro Kruik's phone (Home Office/PA)
The navigation app found on Dmytro Kruik's phone showed their planned course from France to Hampshire (Home Office/PA)

Kruik had also filmed on his phone a video of preparations made for smuggling the immigrants on board at another French harbour, in Barneville-Carteret, the court heard.

David Leathley, representing Kurtoglu, said his client, a father-of-six, was of previous good character who had previously been a ballet dancer and choreographer and had discovered while in prison that he could draw.

Showing his artwork to the judge, Mr Leathley said: "He is a gentle, well-meaning soul.

"He is very sad because of his incarceration, not being able to wander round in fields in the fresh air and he is very worried about his family back home."

Crown court stock
Vladyslav Kurtoglu and Dmytro Kruik were sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court (Chris Ison/PA)

The court heard that Kurtoglu's brother, Hannadii, 48, had been previously been convicted of a "near-identical" offence in Suffolk and was jailed for four years at Ipswich Crown last July.

Conrad Gadd, representing Kruik, whose name means "hook" in Ukrainian, said: "He is a keen yachtsman, he was approached and offered this opportunity.

"He saw this as an easy way of making money. He was to be paid 2,000 euros for this particular trip but he hasn't received anything."

Judge Stephen Climie ordered the forfeiture of the yacht, whose name means "little bowl".

He told the defendants: "I acknowledge on the face of it this was a single incident which was capable of repetition, but there is not the evidence that either of you were involved in more than one attempt to bring illegal immigrants into the UK."

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