Kent

Dymchurch pair admit smuggling Albanian migrants

A rigid-hulled inflatable boat
Image caption A boat linked to the police investigation was driven away from Dymchurch beach

Two men have pleaded guilty to immigration offences after a boat carrying 20 people had to be rescued off the Kent coast.

Robert Stilwell, 33, from Dartford, and Mark Stribling, 35, from Farningham, admitted conspiring to facilitate the entry of non-EU nationals.

They were rescued off Dymchurch with 18 Albanian migrants. Five claimed asylum, while 13 are being removed from the UK.

Stilwell and Stribling will be sentenced on 29 July.

They appeared at Maidstone Crown Court via video-link from prison, where they were on remand.

The UK coastguard was called to Dymchurch just before midnight on 28 May.

A helicopter from Lydd and two lifeboats with coastguard rescue teams from Dungeness and Folkestone searched for the rigid-hulled inflatable boat, which was located about two hours later.

Border Force staff later removed another boat from the beach at Dymchurch as part of its investigation.

Officials believe it may have been part of a wider people-smuggling operation.

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