Two crooks caught smuggling four Iraqis including pregnant mother and young ...

Two men who conspired to smuggle four Iraqi migrants, including a heavily pregnant woman and six-year-old, into the UK have both been given a four and a half year prison sentence.

Bradley Turner, 38, and John Sheppard, 67, of Essex, were arrested after being found in a 'thoroughly unseaworthy' fishing boat carrying Iraqi nationals off Ramsgate, Kent, in August 2018.

The pair, who pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law, were sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Thursday. 

Bradley Turner (pictured), 38, and John Sheppard, 67, of Essex, were arrested after being found in a fishing boat carrying Iraqi nationals off Ramsgate, Kent, in August 2018

Pictured: John Sheppard

Bradley Turner (left), 38, and John Sheppard (right), 67, of Essex, were arrested after being found in a fishing boat carrying Iraqi nationals off Ramsgate, Kent, in August 2018

Sentencing Judge Simon James said the pair had sought to profit from 'the desperation of others' and 'any attempt to circumvent the border controls has a capacity to undermine the nation's security'.

He said the migrants would have been seeking 'a new life for themselves' but the prevalence of illegal immigration was a 'matter of considerable and understandable public concern, placing as it does an increasing burden on the state'.

'The message needs to go out that trafficking people is not an easy way to make money but a serious and exploitative offence', the judge said.

Prosecutor John Livingston told the court the RNLI received a distress call from a fishing vessel with engine failure in the English Channel heading towards the Kent coast on August 9.

The boat, named the Little Bit of Bait, owned and captained by Turner, was towed back to Ramsgate and referred to Border Force officials.

Officers boarded the vessel and found Turner, Sheppard and another man - one of the Iraqis - on board.

Mr Livingston said it was later established a family of three, a man, a 'heavily pregnant' woman and a six-year-old child, had already disembarked before officers arrived.

The boat, named the Little Bit of Bait, owned and captained by Turner, was found not to be 'safe' to use for Channel crossings

The boat, named the Little Bit of Bait, owned and captained by Turner, was found not to be 'safe' to use for Channel crossings

Sheppard became 'very aggressive' and was 'threatening to throw the Border Force

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