Thames Estuary cargo ship stowaways 'threw urine and faeces'

Grande Tema cargo vessel Image copyright Farid Mernissi/Wikipedia
Image caption The Grande Tema set sail from Lagos in Nigeria and was bound for Tilbury in Essex

Four stowaways tried to hijack a container ship and threatened to kill the crew in a desperate bid to reach Britain, a court has heard.

The men, from Nigeria and Liberia, allegedly armed themselves with metal poles and threw faeces onboard the ship in the Thames Estuary in December.

Samuel Jolumi, 27, Ishola Sunday, 28, Toheeb Popoola, 27, and Joberto McGee, 20, deny attempting to hijack the ship.

They also deny making threats to kill and affray.

Special forces swooped on the 78,000 tonne Grande Tema vessel on 21 December, the Old Bailey heard.

Prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC said the defendants had hidden themselves aboard the international merchant ship, voyaging between West Africa and various European ports, including Tilbury in Essex.

They were on the lower deck for a number of days and when the crew discovered them, they were placed into quarantine, jurors heard.

But Mr Badenoch said: "Five days later they broke free from the room in which they had been detained, and threatened to kill the crew members whilst making demands that the ship should make its way to the United Kingdom.

"In order to reinforce these demands the defendants armed themselves with metal poles, they threw urine and faeces, and in at least one defendant's cases, they cut themselves."

The incident was reported to British authorities and the ship was held off-shore in UK waters until the situation was resolved.

Mr Badenoch said the defendants claimed the crew, who had fed and clothed them after their discovery, became the aggressors and attacked them. During negotiations they said a fifth stowaway had fallen overboard.

The trial continues.

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