Albanian Artur Doda was killed after being sucked into ferry’s propellers while compatriot Leonard Isufaj drowned in strong currents off Felixstowe.
Two deported Albanians died after jumping from a passenger ferry into the North Sea to try to swim 500 meters back to the UK shore, an inquest heard.
Albanians Artur Doda, 24, and Leonard Isufaj, 27, leapt from the Stena Britannica ferry off Felixstowe, Suffolk, during a “routine deportation” from Harwich, Essex on 26 February last year.
Doda died almost instantly after sustaining multiple injuries when he was sucked into the propellers of the superferry as they were being sent back to the Hook of Holland. Isufaj drowned in strong currents in seas “an Olympic swimmer would have struggled to swim through”, the inquest heard.
The two men had been put on the 9am passenger ferry after arriving with 13 other stowaways hidden in a lorry on a freight ferry at Harwich five hours previously, the inquest at Chelmsford coroners’ court heard.
One hour into the crossing, during which they were treated like ordinary passengers, an eyewitness saw them jump from railings.
Recording an accidental death verdict, coroner Eleanor McGann concluded: “They were intending to swim back to England, something that they could see was tantalisingly close to them. In fact they did not know about the effect of a moving ship on somebody who jumps over the side and they were sucked underneath.
“This is all part of a bigger picture on immigration and how it’s handled, and nothing more I could say could help prevent such sad deaths in the future.”
Outside court, Isufaj’s cousin called for better protection to prevent such deaths in future. “I know they’re immigrants but they should escort them,” said Besnik Vata, 33, from London. He said he “would have done the same thing, looking at how close the shore was.”
He added: “I think they just came here for a better life.”
Despite a search involving 21 nearby vessels and two helicopters, no bodies were immediately recovered. Isufaj’s body was found washed up on a Felixstowe beach on 20 March.
Doda’s badly decomposed body, later identified through DNA, was found floating in the North Sea on 29 April. He had suffered a “very forceful cut across the vertebrae by a sharp, curved blade” compatible with a propeller blade, said pathologist Dr Ian Calder.
Insp Christopher Willis, of Essex police, said: “To swim to land with those tides and that water temperature would have been nigh-on impossible.”
Giles Young, a senior officer with Border Force at Harwich International Port, told the inquest the men were moved onto the vessel on foot in groups of three, and were not marched on in handcuffs. They had not offered any verbal or physical resistance.
“We see a lot of these particular cases and the same people will turn up two or three times. We have individuals this year who are already on their second attempt and it is only March,” he said. “The Dutch sometimes release them into Holland and they try again. It’s a carousel system.”