Four Nigerian stowaways cut themselves and threatened to infect seafarers with their blood on a cargo ship they were trying to hijack in an attempt to reach Britain, a court heard today.
The Special Boat Service came to the rescue on the Grande Tema ship in the Thames Estuary off the coast of Essex while the drama took place on December 21 last year.
Samuel Jolumi, 27, Ishola Sunday 28, Toheeb Popoola, 27, and Joberto McGee, 20, appeared on the Old Bailey today.
All four reportedly tried to flee Nigeria from the UK when they boarded the 78,000-tonne Italian merchant ship.
They were discovered by captain and crew after hiding for a few days and placed in quarantine before they exploded five days later.
But the gang allegedly attacked the crew throwing urine and excrement and cutting themselves in an attempt to infect the crew & # 39 ;.
The stowaways also saw & # 39; murderous & # 39; gestures to crew members who were imprisoned on the bridge of the ship, heard jury members.
The Special Boat Service sailed to the rescue on the Grande Tema ship in the Thames Estuary off the coast of Essex while the drama took place on December 21 last year
The Ro-Ro container ship Grande Tema arrives from Lagos in Tilbury
Grande Tema container ship arrives at Tilbury docks, Essex. The ship was attacked by members of the Special Boat Service to detain four Nigerian migrants who threatened the ship's crew with iron bars
They reportedly threatened to break the glass and send the ship to the UK, unless the captain did so before 6 am.
Popoola can be seen in a second clip that loads at the window of the bridge while his friends roam the upper deck with liter bottles of their own urine.
Jolumi, 27, Sunday 28, Popoola, 27 and McGee, 20, have denied that they have attempted to hijack the ship, threatening to kill and betray themselves.
Prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC opened his trial against Old Bailey and said the defendants had hidden on board the international merchant ship between West Africa and various European ports, including Tilbury in Essex.
The Italian flag, Grande Tema, weighs around 78,000 tons, is 232 meters long, 32 meters wide and about 38 meters above the waterline.
The container ship of the Grimaldi Group is heavier than the largest aircraft carrier in the UK and only slightly shorter in length than the Houses of Parliament, says Mr Badenoch.
He said to jury members: & # 39; As you will no doubt know, migrants are leaving Africa and using a variety of different land and sea routes to reach Europe and of course the UK here in Europe. & # 39;
He said the four defendants were stowed on the lower deck of the Grande Tema in Lagos, Nigeria for a few days of the trip.
When the crew discovered them, they were placed in quarantine, heard jury members.
But Mr. Badenoch said: “Five days later, they escaped from the room where they were detained and threatened to kill the crew while demanding that the ship find its way to the UK.
& # 39; To reinforce these demands, the defendants have armed themselves with metal poles, threw urine and faeces and in at least one case of the defendant cut themselves.
& # 39; The crew believed that the reason for the reduction was a form of threat, that they would pass on any disease they would pass on to the crew unless their requirements were met. & # 39;
The incident was reported to the British authorities and the ship was kept off the coast in British waters until the situation on board was resolved and the safety of the crew was guaranteed.
The Grande Tema left Lagos on December 10 last year on its way to Tilbury.
The defendants did not bring enough food for the trip and were discovered six days later while the ship was in the North Atlantic, the court heard.
The captain found them on the lower deck slope close to where the propellers are, with two hanging over the rails in dangerous waters, jury members were told.
He negotiated with them to get fully on board and for safety, and offered them food, told jury members.
Mr. Badenoch said that the fact that the crew was smiling and helping the stowaways was relevant to the case.
He said the defendants later claimed that the same people who helped them, fed and dressed, became the attackers and attacked them.
Samuel Jolumi, 27, Ishola Sunday 28, Toheeb Popoola, 27, and Joberto McGee, 20, denied attempting to hijack the Grande Tema (photo arrived at Tilbury docks on December 22)
The stowaways had tried to take over an Italian ship (early in the morning this morning) off the coast of Kent and demanded that the ship be moved closer to the coast so that they could swim to Britain
During the negotiations, the defendants also claimed that there had been a fifth stowaway that had fallen overboard, the court heard.
When stowaways were able to escape from quarantine, they went & # 39; at any cost & # 39; to Britain, heard jury members.
The migrants demanded that they be brought to the nearest coast so that they could jump to the coast and swim, were told jury members.
The court was shown video footage of the alleged hijackers armed with metal poles, one of which appeared to be in a boxing position.
On December 21, the captain warned the Coast Guard & # 39; with some urgency & # 39 ;, Mr. Badenoch said.
The ship's captain told the coast guard that the stowaways & # 39; dangerous & # 39; and & # 39; very violent & # 39; goods.
While controlling the ship, he was unable to drop anchor or have a pilot on board lead the ship into the dock.
When darkness fell, the captain was instructed to turn off the light and special units took back control 14 hours after the crew had sought refuge in the bridge.
The jury has been told that they will watch the Grande Tema on Friday in Tilbury Docks.
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