A Kuwaiti who claimed he was a teenager after leading 11 migrants across the Channel in an inflatable dinghy before being caught had ‘lost track of his age’.
Issa Al Tamini, 20, told a court he was just 17 when he admitted illegally facilitating entrance to the UK by steering the vessel to Dungeness, Kent, in March.
But a judge ruled that he was in fact 20 years of age following a lengthy cross-examination and blood tests.
During a Newton Hearing, where lawyers resolve factual issues without a jury being present, Al Tamini said he could not read or write.
Al Tamini, who says he cannot read or write, claims his mum keeps track of his age and added he could only remember his 14th and 15th birthdays because he was given cake
Al Tamini was arrested by police for facilitating illegal entry into the UK by steering a boat that crossed the English Channel and landed at Dungeness, Kent
He was sent to the UK for a ‘prosperous’ life, Canterbury Crown Court was told, after being raised in poverty on a farm in the north of Kuwait.
He said he was a part of the ‘Bedoon’ community of Shia Muslims, who had been rendered stateless, and said they were often left without papers.
He denied telling Border Force he was an adult after being arrested in spring and claimed he was 17.
Al Tamini, who says he cannot read or write, claims his mum keeps track of his age and added he could only remember his 14th and 15th birthdays because he was given cake.
He said he had been sent away when he was 16 and lived in Greece for a year and a half, before a friend of his father’s paid ‘a lot of money’ for him to trek across Europe.
Al Tamini was sent to the UK for a ‘prosperous’ life, Canterbury Crown Court (pictured) was told, after being raised in poverty
Judge Mark Weekes said it was likely he ‘lost track of time’ while travelling around Europe and because he could not read.
The judge added there was no evidence he organised the crossing but ‘didn’t particularly need to come to the country.’
He continued: ‘You had choices and it was up to you to withdraw from this dangerous sailing.’
Al Tamini was jailed in a young offenders institution for 13 months.
He will be considered for deportation upon his release.