FOUR Nigerian stowaways arrested in the UK in December 2018 for illegal entry into the country have been jailed for a total of seven years after an eight-week trial at the Old Bailey in London.
Two years ago, while on the ship, they hurled faeces at elite SBS sailors manning the vessel and vowed to infect them with HIV during a tense stand-off in the Thames Estuary. During the siege, the stowaways also threatened to kill crew members with metal poles when they broke free from quarantine on the 78,000-tonne Italian merchant ship on 21 December 2018.
Helicopters with specialist sailors were sent to rescue the Grande Tema’s crew and arrest the men, while the ship floated off the Essex coast. Samuel Jolumi, 27, Ishola Sunday, 28, Toheeb Popoola, 27, and Joberto McGee, 21, were all found guilty of affray after the trial, with Messrs Popoola and McGee also found guilty of making threats to kill.
However, all four men were cleared of attempting to hijack the ship. Mr Popoola was jailed for 31 months, while Mr McGee was sentenced to 32 months behind bars, with Messrs Sunday and Popoola each jailed for 16 months.
They will serve half of their sentences behind bars and may be detained for deportation proceedings. They were found by the captain days after the vessel set sail from Lagos, Nigeria and placed in quarantine before they mutinied five days later.
At least one member of the group made throat-slitting gestures at the 27-strong crew and Mr McGee mouthed the words I kill you. Faeces were also smeared across the windows of the cabin that the crew had barricaded themselves into.
Messrs Popoola and McGee had previously been sent back to Nigeria after stowing away on separate ships, while Mr Sunday is a married father-of-two who took a chance decision to board the ship. Mr Popoola has stowed himself away three times previously and has also applied for asylum, while Mr McGee, who organised the riot, said he had dreams of becoming a footballer when he reached the UK.