Third man appears in court over Channel crossing tragedy

A third man has been charged with an immigration offence after five migrants died trying to cross the English Channel.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the defendant, from Sudan, appeared at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, charged with entering the UK illegally.

He was detained in Hayes, west London, and was interviewed by officers on Wednesday.

The defendant’s age was originally given as 23 but during his court appearance on Thursday he claimed to be a minor, an NCA spokesperson said.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, on board the RNLI Dover Lifeboat (Gareth Fuller/PA)

It comes after two other males from South Sudan and Sudan were charged over the incident, but disputes about their ages and whether they are youths have delayed court proceedings.

The pair claimed they are 15 and 16, but initial age assessments by immigration officers and a social worker placed them in their early 20s.

Further in-depth assessments have been ordered by Folkestone Youth Court.

The NCA previously said it was working with Kent Police, immigration enforcement teams and Border Force to support the French-led investigation into the incident off the northern French coast on April 23.

A dinghy carrying more than 100 people set off from Wimereux at around 6am but got into difficulty.

Three men, a woman and a seven-year-old girl died.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
A Border Force vessel brings a group of people thought to be migrants in to Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Nearly 50 people were rescued but 58 others refused to leave the boat and continued their journey towards the UK, the French coastguard said, with several other boats later embarking on the crossing.

The NCA has said more than 50 people who were on board the dinghy which arrived in the UK have now been interviewed.

An 18-year-old man from Sudan has also been arrested over the incident and remains on bail pending further inquiries.