The courts may have thought that they had heard it all before, but a recent trial at Hull Crown Court really has pushed the boundaries. Hull Crown Court was informed how a mother and child fleeing ISIS were smuggled onto a North Sea ferry with the help of an illiterate Hull taxi driver Harbjon Singh.
The woman who was fleeing from ISIS went there to support her husband Hull who was “forced to fight for ISIS” but “came to harm”, leaving her and her children in an “impossible position”, reports Hull Live.
Her former husband, Ahmed Yousef, 42, who was already in Hull and has been granted asylum, wanted to be reunited with the family and enlisted the help of his friend, taxi driver Harbjon Singh, 52, to collect them from Holland.
Singh in turn sought the help of Dutch national Dawda Ceesay, 49, who was then living in a house Singh owned in Worthing Street, west Hull.
When Ceesay was arrested in the house owned by Singh, police searched the property and found it had been turned into a “sophisticated” cannabis farm containing drugs worth nearly £50,000. A fourth man believed to be involved in the smuggling plot, Ricardo Rosenstein, who shared the house in Worthing Street, has never been traced.
Felicity Hemlin, prosecuting, said two very similar trips were made on P&O ferries between Hull and Rotterdam in Holland in hired motorhomes, the first involving Ceesay and Rosenstein, reports Hull Live.
The first, which arrived back on Hull on March 21, 2016, brought Yousef’s and his former wife’s two children, a boy and a girl then aged about 12 and 14.
After being smuggled onto a motor home in Holland, they made no attempt to hide themselves on the ferry and declared themselves to border officials on arrival in Hull and claimed asylum. Their claims are still being assessed.
Yousef funded the trip and the motorhome was rented from Compact Camper Hire in Market Weighton, and the ferry booked through Sanderson and Dawson travel agents in Hull.
A second trip, which returned on April 25, 2016, was made by Singh and Ceesay, and this time brought the mother and another of her children. That camper van was rented from Yorkshire Motorhome Hire and the ferry booked through Thomas Cook.
Although Singh was described in court as a taxi driver, Ceesay told police he drove because he did not think Singh had a licence. Ceesay and Singh were not paid for taking part in the crossings and Ceesay said he “thought he was just doing a favour”.
Mother and child also claimed asylum and their claims are being assessed. The family was originally from Iraq.
Referring to Yousef’s interview with a probation officer, Judge Mark Bury said: “He says that his former wife was put in an impossible position because her later husband was forced to fight for ISIS.”
‘Lives in danger’
Miss Hemlin said: “Yes, and she and her family as a result felt their life was in immediate danger and that is the reason why they had to leave their home in Iraq.” The judge later said the husband in question “came to harm”.
Ceesay had agreed to look after the cannabis farm by a friend of Rosenstein’s called “Polish John”, the court heard, in return for some cannabis and his rent being paid.
There were 135 plants in the property’s three bedrooms with a potential yield of £42,428.57. A further 1,016 grams of dry cannabis was also seized, worth an estimated £5,805.
Yousef, of William Street, west Hull, and Singh, of Beverley Road, west Hull, both admitted conspiracy to assist in unlawful immigration. Ceesay, now of Shandwick Place in Edinburgh, admitted that offence and production of cannabis.
Singh had trouble paying contributions towards legal fees so was represented by David Godfrey on a pro bono basis. The judge said Mr Godfrey had behaved in an “exemplary fashion” by doing so.
Mr Godfrey described the grandfather as “a taxi driver, a hard-working man and from a broad and good family”.
Ceesay was jailed for 20 months. Singh received a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. Yousef will be sentenced at a later date.