Court in County Antrim hears man 'charged a fee of 4,500 dollars' to facilitate illegal immigration to UK

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A man charged a fee of 4,500 dollars to facilitate illegal immigration into the UK, a court in Ballymena was told.

Munef Al Jashaami (35), with an address listed at Portland in Maine in the United States, was given a five months jail term at Antrim Magistrates' Court, sitting in Ballymena, on Tuesday.

He pleaded guilty to assisting unlawful immigration to the United Kingdom on June 1 this year. The defendant appeared at court via video link from Maghaberry Prison.

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A defence barrister said the defendant had "a mid-range level of English" and he was assisted at court by an Arabic language interpreter.

The case was heard at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena.The case was heard at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena.
The case was heard at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena.

A prosecutor said immigration officers at Belfast International Airport had spoken to the defendant, an American citizen, who was along with a woman who was a suspected illegal immigrant.

The prosecutor said the defendant was attempting to facilitate the illegal migrant to get to Great Britain, having entered unlawfully via the Republic of Ireland.

The prosecutor said it was believed the defendant was attempting to facilitate the illegal migrant into the the UK by "providing an illegal service including the procurement of false documents and unlawful travel across multiple EU (European Union) borders charging a fee of 4,500 dollars to illegally enter the UK via Ireland".

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The defence lawyer said the defendant, who has a wife and four children in Portland, works in "security".

The barrister said the defendant said he had been on "holiday" in Copenhagen and had a "random encounter" with a woman and was not involved in "people trafficking" but had "simply assisted" the woman who had been "looking for help".

Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter said it was a "very serious offence" and added: "I don't accept his story and I have no doubt that money has been received. This is either people smuggling and/or people trafficking.

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"There is money involved, quite a substantial amount of money. I think it is a case of someone who is pandering to and assisting the more needy in society by doing what he is doing".

The judge handed down a five months jail sentence. The defendant was given bail to appeal the sentence but is to remain in custody until then.

The seized money has been frozen and there will be an application to have it removed from him, the court heard.