Thursday, March 02, 2023

Jessica Magee

A Swedish citizen has been sentenced to three years in prison for attempting to smuggle five people into Ireland last year.

Saleban Abdisahar (30), of no fixed abode in Sweden, pleaded guilty to three counts of facilitating the illegal entry of people into the State on flights into Dublin Airport last January 23rd, January 29th and February 18th.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday, Judge Martin Nolan described Abdisahar as the “middle cog” in the trafficking operation. The court heard Abdisahar was paid up to €1,000 for each person he successfully smuggled in.

“Obviously people wanting to get into this country are desperate and are willing pay for the services of the accused and his paymasters,” said Judge Nolan.

Early plea

The judge set a headline sentence of five or six years but reduced this on the basis of Abdisahar’s early plea, his cooperation with gardaí, his lack of any previous convictions and the unlikelihood of him offending again.

“It seems he’s a pleasant man,” said Judge Nolan.

An investigating garda told Karl Finnegan BL, prosecuting, that Abdisahar caught the attention of immigration control officers last February 18th when he arrived into Terminal One on a Ryanair flight from Bordeaux, France.

Immigration officer Brendan Bowe noticed that the photo on Abdisahar’s Swedish ID card did not resemble him and that he was giving conflicting reasons as to why he was visiting Ireland.

When Abdisahar showed Mr Bowe a photo of his Swedish passport, a warning was issued on the Schengen area information system saying the passport had been lost or stolen.

Mr Bowe also noticed that Abdisahar’s mobile was continually getting calls and WhatsApp messages from the same number, which turned out on examination to be all about the transport of people into the State.

Passport photos

Abdisahar’s phone was also found to contain multiple photos of passports and boarding passes for flights from Bordeaux to Ireland, along with a Dutch passport which was not his.

Immigration officials decided to conduct a sweep of the immigration hall and entrance corridors as they suspected that a number of people may have travelled with Abdisahar.

A woman found sitting on a stairwell outside the immigration hall was found to have no travel documents and initially denied knowing Abdishara, but later admitted that she had paid to be smuggled into the State with his help. This woman’s phone was also examined and found to contain screenshots and information linking her to Abdisahar’s phone.

Abdisahar was arrested and initially gave confusing answers about his entry into Ireland, but on his third interview he made full admissions and told gardaí he had been offered a job giving documents to people and travelling with them if they needed help.

Abdisahar said he had been jobless at the time and accepted this job from a guy in Sweden, but only knew his first name. He explained how the system worked and identified the woman on the stairs as someone he had smuggled in, adding that he got paid up to €1,000 for each person.

Abdisahar said he had only become involved in people smuggling since the previous month when he travelled from Malaga to Dublin, prompting gardaí to investigate the offences of January 2022. In total Abdisahar was found to have helped five people into the country where they would seek international protection. He has no previous convictions.

Luigi Rea BL, defending, said Abdisahar was originally from Somalia and had worked in Sweden for many years but hit hard times and got caught up in this type of activity.

“He has no vast amounts of money stashed away,” said Mr Rea. Mr Rea said his client was anxious to go home to Sweden, where he had been sending money to family members who were still in Somalia.

Abdisahar’s three-year sentence was backdated to February 18 last, when he went into custody.

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