Essex lorry deaths: 39 Vietnamese people died of suffocation and overheating in container, inquest hears

Coroner calls incident a 'tragedy on a large scale' as criminal proceedings continue

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 19 March 2020 17:24
Container deaths court hearing- Lorry driver part of 'global ring'

The 39 Vietnamese men, women and children who were found dead in a lorry container died of suffocation and overheating, an inquest has heard.

Ten teenagers were among the migrants found dead in a vehicle parked on the Waterglade industrial park in Grays in the early hours of 23 October.

An inquest into their deaths was opened at Essex Coroner’s Court on Thursday and adjourned.

Lincoln Brookes, the area coroner for Essex, said it would resume when criminal proceedings linked to the case has concluded.

He expressed his “deep condolences” to the relatives of the dead, adding: “This was clearly on any view a tragedy on a large scale, and a personal tragedy to each of the families.”

The names of the deceased were read aloud by coroner's officer Nick Hale at the hearing, after a scheduled Vietnamese interpreter went into self-isolation over coronavirus.

Post-mortem and toxicology reports have given the cause of death as asphyxia and hyperthermia in an enclosed space, Mr Hale said.

Essex Police said last month they had sent detectives to the Vietnam to meet relatives of the deceased as they investigate the alleged human trafficking plot.

Several people have been alleged in connection with the deaths and the alleged wider ring.

Maurice Robinson, who was driving the lorry, admitted conspiring to assist illegal immigration and acquiring criminal property in November but has not yet entered pleas to 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to commit human trafficking or transferring criminal property.

Valentin Calota, 37, of Cossington Road in Birmingham, has been charged with conspiring to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law.

Four other men have also been charged by British police, while Vietnamese investigators were prosecuting seven people.

Lorry driver Eamonn Harrison has been granted an appeal against his extradition from Ireland to the UK.

The 23-year-old is alleged to have driven the container to the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium and later signed the shipping notice for it as it moved onwards to Britain.

Bui Thi Nhung texted relatives from inside the container saying she was dying

The names of the deceased were read out as:

  • Dinh Binh Dinh, a 15-year-old boy from Hai Phong
  • Huy Hung Nguyen, a 15-year-old boy from Ha Tinh
  • Tran Ngoc Hieu, a 17-year-old boy from Hai Duong
  • Dinh Dinh Thai Quyen, an 18-year-old man from Hai Phong
  • Khanh Tho Tran, an 18-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  • Hoang Van Tiep, an 18-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Thi Mai Nhung Tran, an 18-year-old woman from Nghe An
  • Thi Ngoc Tran, a 19-year-old woman from Nghe An
  • Nhan Du Vo, a 19-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  • Bui Thi Nhung, a 19-year-old woman from Nghe An
  • Dinh Luong Nguyen, a 20-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  • Minh Quang Nguyen, a 20-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Thi Tho Tran, a 21-year-old woman from Nghe An
  • Dang Huu Tuyen, a 22-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Hoang Van Hoi, a 24-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Van Hiep Nguyen, a 24-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Vo Van Linh, a 25-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  • Tho Tuan Nguyen, a 25-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Thi Tra My Pham, a 26-year-old woman from Ha Tinh
  • Trong Thai Nguyen, a 26-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Dinh Tu Nguyen, a 26-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Duong Minh Tuan, a 27-year-old man from Quang Binh
  • Pham Thi Ngoc Oanh, a 28-year-old woman from Nghe An
  • Ngoc Nam Vo, a 28-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Van Ha Le, a 30-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Ba Vu Hung Nguyen, a 31-year-old man from Thua Thien Hue
  • Ngoc Ha Nguyen, a 32-year-old man from Quang Binh
  • Van Nhan Nguyen, a 33-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  • Tien Dung Nguyen, a 33-year-old man from Quang Binh
  • Van Hung Nguyen, a 33-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Thi Van Nguyen, a 35-year-old woman from Nghe An
  • Tran Hai Loc , a 35-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Huy Phong Nguyen, a 35-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  • Manh Hung Tran, a 37-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  • Phan Thang Bui, a 37-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  • Cao Tien Dung, a 37-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Cao Huy Thanh, a 37-year-old man from Nghe An
  • Phan Thi Thanh, a 41-year-old woman from Hai Phong
  • Trong Thanh Le, a 44-year-old man from Dien Chau

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