Lorry ‘became a tomb’ for 39 Vietnamese victims

Lorry 'became a tomb' for 39 Vietnamese victims
The container had "become a tomb" the Old Bailey heard. Source: PA Media
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: A lorry container became a “tomb” as 39 desperate women, men and children suffocated inside, heard a court.

Jurors were told that the temperatures in the unit reached an “unbearable” 38.5C as the Vietnamese nationals were sealed inside for at least 12 hours.

Their bodies were found on 23 October 2019 when the container was eventually opened in Purfleet, Essex.

Lorry driver Gheorghe Nica and Eamonn Harrison are on trial at the Old Bailey accused of manslaughter.

The pair are also accused of being part of a people-smuggling conspiracy with another lorry driver Valentin Calota and Christopher Kennedy, and

Bill Emlyn Jones told jurors while opening their Old Bailey trial that it was a “sad and unavoidable truth” that some people were prepared to go to great lengths to come to the UK “for a better life”, adding the cost was some 10,000 pounds per person. The victims are aged between 15 and 44.

“Obviously, any time you fill an airtight container with a large number of people, where they will be left for hours and hours, with no means of escape and no means of communication with the outside world – well, it is fraught with danger,” he told jurors.

Mr Emlyn Jones said the victims were “husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters”.

He told to the court how Mr Harrison drove them to Zeebrugge in Belgium, where the container was loaded on to a cargo ship bound for the UK.

Maurice Robinson, another lorry driver, then collected the trailer from Purfleet in Essex when it arrived just after midnight on 23 October, the court heard.

The prosecutor said that by then, it had been some 12 hours at least since “any meaningful amount of fresh air had been let into the sealed container”.

The court heard that Robinson had been sent a message from his boss to “give them air quickly, but don’t let them out.”

Mr Emlyn Jones said: “What he found must haunt him still. For the 39 men and women inside, that lorry had become their tomb.”

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