Stowaways on Grande Tema are jailed

Four stowaways from Nigeria and Liberia have been jailed in the UK after threatening the crew on cargo ship Grande Tema (IMO 9672090). The men waved metal poles and lobbed faeces and urine at crew after they were discovered hiding aboard the ship in December 2018 (Insurance Marine News, October 4th 2019)

When the ship reached the Thames Estuary the stowaways demanded to be dropped off in the UK. The crew barricaded themselves on the bridge behind bullet proof glass following threats. There then followed 14-hour standoff, before special forces attacked under cover of darkness to rescue the sailors

Samuel Jolumi, 27, Ishola Sunday, 28, Toheeb Popoola, 27, and Joberto McGee, 21, were cleared at the Old Bailey of attempting to hijack the ship but they were convicted of affray. Popoola was found guilty of making a threat to kill while McGee was convicted on two similar offences.

The court heard that Popoola and McGee has been stowaways before and been sent back to Nigeria each time. Sunday, a married father of two, was said to have made an “impulsive decision” to hide aboard the ship and now wanted “nothing other than to go home and rebuild his life”, the court was told.

Judge Nigel Lickley QC sentenced McGee to 32 months Popoola was jailed for 31 months and the two co-defendants were jailed for 16 months.

“The crew were intimidated, fearful and some feared for their lives at times. The English Channel is a busy sea lane and it was disrupted by your activity“, Judge Lickley said.

The judge praised the “fortitude and good sense” of the ship’s Italian captain, Antonio Raggi, in the face of violence and possible death.

The four had secretly boarded the Grimaldi Group ship in Lagos, Nigeria, before it set off for Tilbury in the UK.

The captain found them on the lower deck ramp, close to the propellers, with two hanging over the rails in dangerous waters. The men were given food and water and placed into quarantine. However, five days later they broke out and demanded to be taken to Britain.

The court was shown footage of the stowaways armed with metal poles, with one appearing to square up in a boxing pose.

The incident was reported to British authorities and the ship was held off-shore in UK waters, unable to dock. In the middle of the night, special forces descended on the ship and detained the stowaways.

2014-built, Italy-flagged, 71,543 gt Grande Tema is owned and ISM managed by Grimaldi Deep Sea Spa of Naples, Italy. Commercial manager is Grimaldi Group SpA of the same address. It is entered with North of England on behalf of Grimaldi Deep Sea SpA. It is entered for H&M with Norwegian Hull Club on behalf of Grimaldi Group SpA. Gard holds a subscription position.