Essex

Grays lorry deaths: Police team heads to Vietnam

Pham Thi Tra My and Nguyen Dinh Luong
Image caption Pham Thi Tra My, 26, and Nguyen Dinh Luong, 20, were among the victims

Officers investigating the deaths of 39 migrants found in the back of a lorry in Essex are in Vietnam to meet the families of the victims.

The bodies of the 31 males and eight women were found in a refrigerated trailer at Grays on 23 October.

Essex Police said a team of 12, made up of police officers and staff, had travelled to south-east Asia.

Specialists from the National Crime Agency and Vietnamese officers will be joining them for their visits.

On Tuesday, police revealed a preliminary cause of death had been given as a combination of suffocation and overheating in an enclosed space.

Among those who died was Pham Thi Tra My, 26, who sent her family a message on 22 October saying she could not breathe and her "trip to a foreign land has failed".

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The bodies of 39 Vietnamese nationals were discovered in a refrigerated trailer

One of the men accused of involvement in their deaths won the right to appeal against his extradition to the UK on Wednesday.

Eamonn Harrison, 23, of Mayobridge, County Down, is facing 39 charges of manslaughter as well as conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

The lorry driver Maurice Robinson, of Craigavon, County Armagh, admitted conspiring to assist illegal immigration and acquiring criminal property at the Old Bailey in November.

He has not yet entered pleas to 39 manslaughter counts or conspiracy to commit human trafficking and transferring criminal property.

His co-accused, Christopher Kennedy, 23, from Darkley, County Armagh, denied conspiracy to commit human trafficking offences, assisting unlawful immigration and arranging to facilitate the travel of other people with a view to exploitation.

Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills, Essex, will next appear at The Old Bailey on 16 March.

A 22-year-old man was arrested in Northern Ireland on Sunday on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating unlawful immigration. He is in custody in Essex.

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