FOUR stowaways who forced the crew of an international cargo ship to lock themselves in the vessel’s bridge have been convicted of criminal offences.
The foursome were discovered on board a 75,000-tonne ship from Nigeria to Tilbury on December 21, 2018, and detained by the crew for their own safety.
But they broke out and some began threatening to kill members of the crew, forcing the ship’s entire staff of 23 people to lock themselves in the bridge.
The four men then banged on the windows of the bridge and smeared them with blood, faeces and urine.
The incident happened when the ship was seven miles off the coast of Ramsgate, Kent.
The crew called the Coastguard, who called in police, who in turn called in the army for assistance.
Professional negotiators eventually established contact with the men and a crew was sent to board the ship and detain them.
When it docked in Tilbury, Essex Police boarded the ship and arrested the four stowaways.
After a weeks-long trial at the Old Bailey, the four men – each of no fixed address – were handed convictions on Tuesday, November 19.
Toheeb Popoola, 27, was found guilty on one count of making threats to kill and one of affray.
Joberto McGree, 20, was found guilty on two counts of making threats to kill and one of affray.
Samuel Jolumi, 27, and Ishola Sunday, 27, were each found guilty of affray.
They are due to be sentenced on Friday, January 3.
DCI Julie Gowen, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “The crew followed protocol and retreated to the bridge, where they secured themselves, thus ensuring there was no physical confrontation.
“As a result of their actions, no harm came to any party involved.
“I would like to thank the crew for their support during this investigation. I’d also like to thank the shipping company, international freight shipping line Grimaldi Group.”
Chief Superintendent Andy Mariner, gold commander for the incident, said: “This was a complex emergency involving multiple partners and a 75,000-tone vessel that was circling in a busy shipping lane.
“This was the first time I’ve had to deploy a military unit alongside our officers.
“Ultimately, the objectives were to take control of the ship and bring it and everyone on board – including the four defendants – to Tilbury safely.”