A SAMPAN overloaded with 19 illegal immigrants was so unseaworthy it reminded a High Court judge of the Titanic. Mr Justice Saied sentenced Ngan Sai-fai, 21, and Lai Sun-wai, 22, to five years' jail each after they pleaded guilty to being crewmen on board a sampan which brought 19 young men to Hong Kong. The court heard that the boat, designed to carry a maximum of four people, had no life-saving or fire-fighting equipment, or a night-navigation device. Mr Justice Saied, when sentencing Ngan and Lai, said: ''The boat was overloaded and the vessel was not seaworthy - one is reminded of the Titanic here.'' Senior Crown Counsel Laura Millar told the court that on February 2 a Marine Police launch was patrolling the waters off Fan Lau, Lantau Island. Just before 11 pm, the crew spotted a sampan drifting without lights in Chinese territorial waters, just off Lantau. Its engine appeared to have failed and the boat was being tossed about in a one-metre swell. Ms Millar said the boat had 21 men on board, including the defendants. The men were using a torch to attract the attention of passing boats. The police launch took them on board. Under caution, the defendants admitted they had set out from the Guangdong coast, their intention being to smuggle the men into Hong Kong. They told police they had been employed by a Mr Ng, a mainland Chinese, who owned the sampan. The defendants said they were to be paid by Mr Ng on their return to China. In mitigation, defence counsel Michael Wong said the defendants were being pressured by Mr Ng to repay money they had borrowed from him. Lai, a fisherman, expected to be paid 500 yuan (HK$670) while Ngan, a farmer, hoped to get 150 yuan for bringing the illegal immigrants to the territory.