A group of stowaways have been found guilty of running amok on a massive container ship during a 14-hour stand-off in the Thames Estuary.
Four men, from Nigeria and Liberia, were accused of waving metal poles and lobbing faeces after they stowed away on the 78,000 tonne Grande Tema last December.
They demanded to be taken to Britain, with two making cut-throat gestures at crew members who had barricaded themselves on the bridge.
The deadlock was only broken when special forces swooped on the ship, docked near Tilburym, under cover of darkness to rescue the sailors in December last year.
Samuel Jolumi, 27, Ishola Sunday, 28, Toheeb Popoola, 27, and Joberto McGee, 20, were cleared of attempting to hijack the ship but convicted of affray.
Popoola was found guilty of making a threat to kill while McGee was convicted on two similar counts.
During the trial, prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC had told how the men had secretly boarded the Grimaldi Group ship in Lagos, Nigeria, before it set off on its trading route to Tilbury in Essex.
The captain found them on the lower deck ramp close to where the propellers are, with two hanging over the rails in dangerous waters, jurors were told.
The men were given food and water and placed into quarantine but broke out five days later and demanded to be taken to Britain.
Mr Badenoch said: “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.”
They were filmed by the crew making cut-throat gestures and waving bottles of urine.
The court was also shown footage of the alleged hijackers armed with metal poles, with one appearing to square up in a boxing pose.
The incident was reported to British authorities and the ship was held off-shore in UK waters, unable to dock, as the stalemate continued.
In the middle of the night, special forces descended on the ship and detained the stowaways, jurors were told.
Giving evidence, the Italian captain Antonio Raggi told jurors of his fears for the safety of the 27-strong crew.
He said: “For me, these guys could be terrorists, Boko Haram, I don’t know.
“They come on board, they break the safety, the security of the vessel.
“My problem is if these guys have put something in a part of the vessel and after are going to come and get weapons.”
During the trial, jurors visited the 232m long ship at Tilbury docks which was said to be heavier than the UK’s largest aircraft carrier, and only slightly shorter in length than the Houses of Parliament.
Judge Nigel Lickley adjourned sentencing at the Old Bailey until January 3.
The court heard how three of the defendants being held at Belmarsh prison had outstanding claims to stay in the UK.
Source: Brentwood Live