Gangmaster guilty over deaths of 21 cockle pickers

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The Independent Online

A Chinese gangmaster was convicted today of the manslaughter of 21 cockle pickers who drowned after being trapped by rising tides in Morecambe Bay.

Lin Liang Ren, 29, was found guilty of unlawfully killing a team of Chinese cocklers who were caught in fast incoming tides on Warton Sands, off Hest Bank, Lancashire, on February 5 2004.

The 10-woman, two-man jury returned the verdict at the conclusion of the seven-month trial at Preston Crown Court.

Lin Liang Ren was the mastermind behind a massive operation which saw illegal immigrants scour beaches for the lucrative cockle harvest.

The prosecution proved it was his criminal negligence which cost the lives of a total of 21 Chinese people.

Although police believe 23 Chinese people perished on the beach, only 21 bodies were recovered.

Lin Liang Ren, of Liverpool, denied he was the head of the cockle picking group.

Lin Liang Ren was also found guilty of facilitation - helping people breach immigration law.

His girlfriend, Zhao Xiao Qing, 21, of Liverpool, was also convicted of facilitation along with his cousin Lin Mu Yong, 31, from Liverpool.

But father and son businessmen David Anthony Eden Snr and David Anthony Eden Jnr were cleared of breaching immigration law by employing illegal immigrants in connection with the tragedy.