- Ammar Khalifa, 49, is originally from Syria but now lives in Burton, Dorset
- Amateur pilot flew to France to collect Syrian refugee Ebrahim Hamad
- He brought him back to the UK but immigration officials caught the pair
- Khalifa has now been jailed but migrant Hamad has been granted asylum
Ammar Khalifa, 49, who is originally from Syria but now lives in Burton, Dorset, flew to France to collect refugee Ebrahim Hamad as part of a 'carefully-thought out plan and enterprise'.
A court heard Khalifa squirrelled Hamad in his small plane and flew into Bournemouth Airport but the pair were spotted and stopped by immigration officials, leading to their arrest.
Ammar Khalifa, 49, (pictured) who is originally from Syria but now lives in Burton, Dorset, flew to France to collect refugee Ebrahim Hamad as part of a 'carefully-thought out plan and enterprise'
Bournemouth Crown Court heard moments after landing Mr Hamad got off the aircraft and was led by another man to an airport hangar where Khalifa's Mercedes car was parked.
The 49-year-old amateur pilot, who was unemployed at the time, then carried on taxing the plane before getting off.
But immigration officials had seen Mr Hamad leave the aircraft and when they quizzed the pilot about his trip he failed to declare his extra passenger.
Suspicious officials then found the asylum seeker hiding in Khalifa's car after carrying out a search.
Mr Hamad left Syria last year as he feared he would be killed and travelled through Turkey, Greece and France before meeting up with the defendant in Cherbourg, northern France, in January.
He has since been granted political asylum in the UK for five years and is working as an assistant manager at a hotel in Bournemouth, a court heard.
Khalifa has now been jailed after being found guilty of assisting unlawful immigration. He was told by a judge that it was 'essential we maintain control of our borders'.
Judge Peter Johnson said: 'You were trying to smuggle a Syrian national into the UK.
'What you did was a carefully thought out plan. You brought in someone you knew had no right to residence in this country.
'It is essential we maintain control of our borders and your actions deliberately circumvented those controls.
'Your role was pivotal, without you this enterprise simply wouldn't have taken place and such offences attract severe sentences.'
Bournemouth Crown Court heard Khalifa is a British citizen who came to the UK in the 1980s to study English and he liives in Burton with his wife, two daughters and three step-children.
He has worked in restaurants, laundries and offices in the past and had borrowed the plane from a family member.
During his trial Khalifa claimed he had met Mr Hamad, who was a stranger, in a cafe in Cherbourg and the two started talking about 'what has happened to our country.'
Khalifa claimed the refugee told him he wanted to see an ill relative in England and had shown him a French identification card.
He claimed it was only when they were 20 minutes from landing that Mr Hamad told Khalifa he was an illegal immigrant. He added he Mr Hamad off the plane before it had taxied as he was worried how it would look if he was found on board.
Leslie Smith, defending, said: 'Mr Khalifa has said 'I put my hands up, I have done something wrong, I have neglected my duties as a UK citizen.'
'Mr Khalifa has lost 18 family members in Syria since the conflict began, the youngest was 16.
'When he met up with Ebrahim Hamad the topic of conversation was 'what has happened to our country'.
'Mr Hamad left Syria because he didn't want to kill anyone. He said if he didn't join the government forces under conscription he would be killed and if he didn't join the anti-government forces he would be killed.'
Mr Smith claimed it was a 'one-off' incident and Khalifa received no financial gain from it.
Khalifa was jailed for three and a half years.