Migrants who died in Essex lorry included some caught in rumbled crossing days earlier

Migrants who died in Essex lorry included some caught in rumbled crossing days earlier

 

The 39 migrants found dead in a lorry container in Essex last year included some who had been part of a rumbled crossing just nine days earlier, a court heard.

Prosecutors say 20 Vietnamese men and women were discovered in a lorry on the French side of the Channel Tunnel on October 14.

Authorities took them away while alleged driver Christopher Kennedy, 24, was allowed to continue to Kent.

Jurors heard “at least two” members of this group were then found among the 28 men, eight women and three children found dead in a lorry in Purfleet, Essex, on October 23.

Prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones said: “You may think this provides a powerful link between the activities of the 14th and then the fatal episode.

“We suggest these particular victims had secured the services of the organised criminal network, paying an enormous amount.

“It didn’t work, so obviously they need a plan B… so they try again.

“The organisers have to arrange a replacement journey, which again involves the same drivers, lorries, network of contacts and so on.”

The cost of crossing the Channel illegally is said to have been “upwards of £10,000” per person.

Jurors yesterday saw maps and CCTV of the movements of defendants in the weeks ahead of the deaths. Drivers allegedly picked up migrants at secluded spots across France and Belgium, as well as legitimate cargo.

Prosecutors say the group did two successful crossings, on October 11 and October 18. After the first, 15 to 20 migrants were seen jumping out of a lorry outside an Essex farm before cars collected them.

Temperature records in the refrigerated container, transporting macaroons and Bakewell tarts, are said to prove people were inside during the October 17/18 crossing.

Mr Jones said the temperature was 13.2C at about 8.45am but rose significantly after driver Eamonn Harrison, 23, made an unscheduled stop in Nieppe, France. He added: “The only explanation for this is the presence of warm-blooded, breathing human beings. It certainly isn’t the biscuits.”

The court heard the temperature hit 25.2C by the time the container arrived at Purfleet Docks on the morning of October 18.

A high of 38.5C was recorded when the group of 39 migrants – aged 15 to 44 – suffocated five days later.

Four men are on trial at the Old Bailey for various offences.

Harrison, of Co Down, Northern Ireland, denies 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Alleged key organiser Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Basildon, Essex, denies 39 counts of manslaughter but admits conspiring to assist unlawful immigration. Drivers Kennedy, of Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, and Valentin Calota 37, of Birmingham, each deny conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.

The jury previously heard four other defendants have admitted their part in the plot. The trial continues.

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