UK court convicts stowaways of affray

A UK court has convicted four Nigerian and Liberian stowaways of affray for throwing faecal matter and threatening the crew of the Grimaldi con/ro Grande Tema last year. They were acquitted of attempted hijacking.

Samuel Jolumi, 27, Ishola Sunday, 28, Toheeb Popoola, 27, and Joberto McGee, 20 were discovered as stowaways by the crew of the Grande Tema on December 16th 2018. They were placed in quarantine while the vessel travelled from Lagos, Nigeria to Tilbury, UK. On the morning of December 21st the stowaways allegedly broke free and demanded to be taken ashore in the UK.

Grande Tema’s 27 crewmembers then locked themselves on the bridge and alerted the authorities. They navigated their vessel in a holding pattern in the English Channel, just off Margate, and awaited assistance. Some of the crew filmed the men making “cut-throat” gestures, brandishing metal poles and “taking up fighting stances”.

A team from the Royal Marines Special Boat Service’s X Squadron abseiled onto the Grande Tema’s deck from helicopters 14 hours later and arrested the stowaways. No one was injured in the 25 minutes it took to regain control of the ship.

The charge of affray carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison. Popoola was also convicted of making a threat to kill.

2014-built, Italy-flagged, 71,543 gt Grande Tema is owned and managed by Grimaldi Deep Sea SpA of Naples, Italy. It is entered with North of England Club 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.