A MAN who twice entered into a restricted area of Southampton port in a bid to stowaway on a ship has been jailed.

Gebreabzgi Yemanebrhan, 38, went into a restricted area of Dock Gate 10 on July 27, but was caught by security.

Two days later, on July 29, Yemanebrhan attempted to do the same thing, this time at Dock Gate 8.

During a trial at Southampton Crown Court it was heard that Yemanebrhan was attempting to stowaway on a ship in order to get to the United States of America.

He was found guilty, by a jury, of two counts of interfering with port security measures required by a port security plan by entering a restricted area.

Yemanebrhan was found not guilty of assaulting a port security officer during the incident on July 29.

He was sentenced to a total of nine months in prison following the conclusion of the trial on Tuesday.

The court had previously conducted a rare type of trial known as a Mute of Malice hearing, as Yemanebrhan was refusing to speak to enter a plea.

The trial involves a jury deciding if a defendant in a criminal case who wilfully chooses not to speak, as opposed to one who does not speak because he is physically or psychologically unable to do so.

Jury members found that Yemanebrhan was Mute of Malice, after a solicitor, who had been instructed to speak to Yemanebrhan earlier in the day, confirmed he had heard him speak.

Judge Peter Henry then entered not guilty pleas on Yemanebrhan's behalf, before the full trial began.