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  • Essex lorry deaths

image copyrightEssex Policeimage captionGheorghe Nica and Eamonn Harrison were both found guilty of manslaughter

Two men have been found guilty of the manslaughter of all 39 Vietnamese migrants found dead in a lorry trailer in Essex.

The migrants suffocated in the sealed container en route from Zeebrugge to Purfleet in October 2019.

Eamonn Harrison, 24, who dropped off the trailer at the Belgian port, and people-smuggler Gheorghe Nica, 43, were convicted by an Old Bailey jury.

Two others were convicted of being part of a wider people-smuggling conspiracy.

Det Ch Insp Daniel Stoten, from Essex Police, said: "If you look at the method, the way they transported human beings… we wouldn't transport animals in that way."

Another two men – Irish haulage boss Ronan Hughes, 41, and 26-year-old lorry driver Maurice Robinson – had previously admitted manslaughter.

Prosecutors said in the run that ended in the deaths of the 39 people, the container became a "tomb" as temperatures in the unit reached an "unbearable" 38.5C (101F).

The migrants, aged 15 to 44, were sealed inside for at least 12 hours.

  • The supposed 'VIP' journey that killed 39 people

image copyrightEssex Policeimage captionDinh Dinh Binh – from Hai Phong – was one of two 15-year-olds to die in the container

Harrison, of Newry, County Down, towed the trailer to Zeebrugge, from where it was transported to Purfleet.

During the 10-week trial, he claimed he did not know there were people in the trailer and that he watched "a wee bit of Netflix" in bed as they were loaded on.

He also said he had no idea there were migrants in two other trailers that he had dropped off at the same port in the previous 12 days.

Robinson, from County Armagh, collected the trailer when it arrived on UK shores just after midnight on 23 October.

His boss, Hughes, had messaged him: "Give them air quickly don't let them out.". Robinson gave a thumbs-up in reply.

But when Robinson stopped on a nearby industrial estate, he found that the migrants were all dead.

There was a series of telephone conversations between him and Hughes and Nica, from Basildon, Essex, before Robinson eventually dialled 999.

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