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Grinning small boat pilot caged after crossing Channel with more than 50 migrants in dangerously overcrowded dinghy

AN illegal migrant has been jailed for piloting a dinghy packed with more than 50 people across the Channel.

Choul Phan Maker’s sentence came on the same day more than 500 small boat migrants arrived in Britain — the highest number so far this year.

Choul Phan Maker, top left, pictured steering an overcrowded dinghy heading to British shores last AugustHome Office / PA Wire

A mugshot of Maker, who was jailed for 20 months after yesterday admitting unlawful arrival and assisting unlawful immigrationHome Office / PA Wire

Maker, 31, was pictured with his hand on the tiller of the inflatable as he steered the overcrowded craft towards our shores last August.

Border Force officials intercepted the boat, with 52 people on board, and Maker was arrested.

At Winchester crown court yesterday, he admitted unlawful arrival and assisting unlawful immigration and was jailed for 20 months.

That day also saw the arrival of 514 illegals in ten boats, with the Government admitting it was facing a “migration emergency”.

Maker, from South Sudan, had been booted out of France after being caught trying to smuggle himself to the UK in a lorry.

He spent more than three years in Europe before travelling from Malta for his latest attempt to cross the Channel.

After his arrest, Maker told police that he had been asked to pilot the dinghy by a gang that organised the journey.

Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson said: “The criminal gangs behind these crossings don’t care if people live or die, as long as they pay, but they rely on migrants who are willing to steer their deadly crossings through the water.

“Putting lives at risk by taking charge of these dangerous, illegal crossing attempts will not be tolerated and it is right this pilot has been brought to justice.”

The Home Office’s Steve Blackwell added: “This pilot thought nothing of endangering dozens of lives in order to make his own illegal journey to the UK.

Maker, far left, on the inflatable with other migrantsHome Office / PA Wire

“His sentence shows anyone caught piloting these dinghies can expect to be arrested and prosecuted.”

More than 4,000 migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year — with 1,788 arriving in 36 boats this month alone.

Last year, the record for daily arrivals was 401 people who got to Dover in seven small boats on March 4.

The Government’s Rwanda Bill, which will see illegal migrants deported to Africa, has been delayed beyond Easter after another House of Lords defeat this week.

PM Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said today: “The legislation is dealing with a migration emergency and we are introducing that legislation as soon as we possibly can to reduce the number of people taking the perilous journey across the Channel.”

He added that it was “frustrating” the Lords had blocked the bill.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We continue to work closely with French police as they work tirelessly to prevent these dangerous, illegal and unnecessary journeys.”

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “More people crossed the Channel in a single day than the Tories plan to send to Rwanda in a year — yet their scheme will cost the taxpayer a staggering half a billion pounds.

“Labour will clear the asylum backlog, end hotel use, and set up a new returns and enforcement unit so those with no right to be in the UK are swiftly returned.

“Labour has a plan to strengthen our border security, relentlessly pursue the smuggling gangs, and restore order to the border once more.”

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