Two charged af­ter mi­grants are res­cued off Kent coast

He­li­copter and lifeboat scrambled as boat be­gins sink­ing

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News -

Two men from Kent have been charged af­ter a boat with 18 Al­ba­ni­ans – in­clud­ing a woman and two chil­dren – be­gan sink­ing off Dym­church.

Mark Stri­b­ling, 35 from Farn­ing­ham and Robert Stil­well, 33, from Dart­ford, were charged un­der the Im­mi­gra­tion Act 1971.

They were both re­manded in cus­tody to ap­pear at Med­way Mag­is­trates’ Court on Mon­day morn­ing and their case has been ad­journed to Maid­stone Crown Court later this month.

The coast­guard was in­volved in the res­cue af­ter the in­flat­able boat got into dif­fi­cul­ties off the coast on Satur­day night.

A he­li­copter was scrambled along with lifeboat and lo­cal coast­guard crews fol­low­ing re­ports the rigid-hulled in­flat­able had been spot­ted near Dym­church shortly be­fore mid­night and was tak­ing on wa­ter.

The 18 Al­ba­nian mi­grants were even­tu­ally found at 2am and taken ashore to Dover by bor­der con­trol of­fi­cers.

All the peo­ple on board who were res­cued were taken into cus­tody by the UK Bor­der Force and were moved to Dover to be in­ter­viewed.

A lifeboat­man whose crew was called out to at­tend the in­ci­dent has echoed warnings about the dan­gers of the stretch of wa­ter in which the ves­sel was found list­ing.

Trevor Bun­ney, deputy sec­ond coxswain at Dun­geness Lifeboat Sta­tion and its full-time me­chanic, has 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence of sea res­cues. - Trevor Bun­ney, RNLI

He said: “The Dun­geness and Lit­tle­stone lifeboats were called out at 11.45pm on Satur­day and the boat was found in choppy waters. The Dover Straits is a dan­ger­ous stretch of wa­ter at the best of times.

“The weather and sea con­di­tions are un­pre­dictable and at this time of year the wa­ter is still very cold.”

Mr Bun­ney warned sea condi- tions in the Dover Straits were much more treach­er­ous than Mediter­ranean waters, where thou­sands of mi­grants have al­ready per­ished try­ing to get to Greece or Italy on boats.

His con­cerns echo those of the pres­i­dent of the French coast­guard, Bernard Bar­ron. He said “smug­glers have now found a new strat­egy” af­ter it had be­come “vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble” for mi­grants to cross into the UK via the Chan­nel Tun­nel or on fer­ries.

For­mer Folke­stone and Hythe Ukip par­lia­men­tary can­di­date and cur­rent South East MEP, Jan­ice Atkin­son, ac­cused the govern­ment of fail­ing to pro­tect the coun­try’s bor­ders and called for Bor­der Force cut­ters to re­turn to the UK’s coast­line.

She said: “This is the tip of the ice­berg. In the past few weeks I have trav­elled to the mi­grant hotspots of Greece and Calais.

“Two out of five of our Bor­der Force cut­ters are in the Aegean Sea.

“How can we guard our own coast­line? The Greeks have 240 boats to pro­tect their bor­ders yet they can­not do so.”

‘The Dover Straits is a dan­ger­ous stretch of wa­ter at the best of times. The weather and sea con­di­tions are un­pre­dictable and at this time of year the wa­ter is still very cold.’

The scene at Dym­church beach af­ter mi­grants were res­cued from a sink­ing boat

Lifeboat­man Trevor Bun­ney

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