Essex

Tilbury Docks container death case: Lorry driver 'caught before'

Still from video showing stowaways being aided near container at Tilbury Docks on 16 August 2014 Image copyright UGC
Image caption Thirty-five immigrants were found on a shipping container at Tilbury Docks in August

A lorry driver accused of trying to transport immigrants into the UK inside a container had been fined for people smuggling days before, a court heard.

Four men deny attempting to smuggle 35 people into Tilbury Docks, Essex. One man died in the container.

Basildon Crown Court heard one defendant been caught in France with migrants in the back of his lorry 11 days before the Tilbury incident.

Timothy Murphy from Londonderry was fined £5,000 in August.

Prosecutor Michael Goodwin told the court how 12 Afghans had been found in a locker in Mr Murphy's lorry transporting frozen chips from Coquelles, France, to the UK on 5 August.

"This was not a case of an energetic migrant chasing after and jumping on board in an attempt to smuggle their way on board," he said.

"There were 12 people inside that locker. They did not end up there by chance."

Mr Goodwin said as Mr Murphy drove the lorry to Coquelles he was in regular contact with fellow defendants Stephen McLaughlin and Martin McGlinchey.

'Struggling to breathe'

The group of 35 Afghan Sikhs was found in the container at Tilbury 11 days after that incident, on 16 August.

Mr Goodwin told the court how dock workers heard noises inside the container and opened it up, finding those inside distressed and struggling to breathe.

Meet Singh Kapoor, 40, had died in the overnight crossing from Zeebrugge, Belgium.

Mr McLaughlin, 34, of Limavady, Londonderry; Mr Murphy, 33, of Elmgrove, Londonderry; Mr McGlinchey, 47, of Derryloughan Road, Coalisland, County Tyrone; and Taha Sharif, 38, who is Kurdish and lived in Tottenham, London, at the time, have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry into the UK.

The trial is expected to last up to six weeks.

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