Man helped smuggle 39 migrants who died in lorry into UK

Human trafficker, 27, admits helping to smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants into UK before they died in the back of a refrigerated lorry

  • Alexandru Hanga accepted he was part of an international gang ferrying migrants into Britain
  • Hanga, 27,  today admitted one count of conspiring to commit unlawful immigration
  • Another trafficker, 43-year-old Gazmir Nuzi, admitted facilitating unlawful immigration
  • In October last year 39 Vietnamese migrants were discovered in a lorry in Essex 
  • Truck driver Martin Robinson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in April  this year  

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A human trafficker has admitted he helped smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants in the UK before they died in the back of a refrigerated lorry. 

Alexandru Hanga, 27, today accepted he was part of an international gang ferrying migrants into Britain.

Appearing in the dock at the Old Bailey Hunga admitted one count of conspiring to commit unlawful immigration and is now awaiting sentencing.

Another trafficker, 43-year-old Gazmir Nuzi, admitted facilitating unlawful immigration.

Police are seen driving the lorry - where the bodies of 39 migrants were discovered - from the scene at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays

Nuzi, from Tottenham, pleaded guilty to conspiring to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person.

Christopher Kennedy, 23, denied conspiring to commit human trafficking and assisting unlawful immigration between 1 May 2018 and 24 October 2019.   

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were discovered in the back of a lorry on an industrial estate in Essex on October 23. 

The victims were identified as coming from various Vietnam provinces, the youngest who were two 15-year-old boys. 

Their bodies were discovered by emergency services shortly after the trailer was left at an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, on October 23 last year. 

Man helped smuggle 39 migrants who died in lorry into UK

Fifteen-year-old Nguyen Huy Hung (left) was the youngest of the group, 10 of whom were teenagers. Nguyen Dinh Lurong, 20, (right) was also named among those who died

Man helped smuggle 39 migrants who died in lorry into UK Man helped smuggle 39 migrants who died in lorry into UK

Pham Tra My, 26, has been confirmed as among the 39 people who died in a lorry in Essex

The discovery was made shortly after the container arrived in Purfleet, having travelled 173 miles from Zeebrugge in Belgium. 

In April this year truck driver Maurice Robinson, 25, pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter. 

An Essex Police investigation into the alleged people-smuggling ring linked to the deaths led to charges against five men, including Robinson. 

Jonathan Polnay, prosecuting, said today: 'There are three trips in particular that comprise the substantive part of that conspiracy.

'There are the events were sadly 39 people were found dead and there are two further trips where Mr Kennedy was the driver and it is one of those trips which Mr Nuzi was in.

Man helped smuggle 39 migrants who died in lorry into UK

Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon in Northern Ireland, pleaded guilty in April to the manslaughter of 39 people, who were found dead in a refrigerated truck in Essex

'The lorry would arrive at Purfleet docks were a trailer would be waiting.

That would be driven to Collingwood Farm.

It is not a built-up area, it is near a golf course.'

The Old Bailey heard prosecutors claim there would be a fleet of vehicles waiting for the migrants at the site.

Gheorghe Nica, 43, denies the manslaughter offences and faces a trial, expected to last between up to eight weeks, that will start on 15 October at the Old Bailey.

He also denies a count of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration between 1 May 2018 and 24 October 2019.

Kennedy, of Corkley Road, Armagh, Northern Ireland, denies assisting unlawful immigration and conspiring to commit a human trafficking offence.

Robinson, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, has admitted 39 counts of manslaughter but denies transfer-ring criminal property.

He has also admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

Nica, of Mimosa Close, Langdon Hills, Basildon, Essex, denies 39 counts of manslaughter and one of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.

Hanga, of Hobart Road, Tilbury, admits conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.

Valentin Calota, 37, of Cossington Road, Birmingham is yet to enter any pleas to a charge of conspiring to smuggle non-EU nationals into the UK, contrary to immigration law, between May 1 2018 and October 24 2019.

Hanga was remanded in custody by Mr Justice Sweeney.

He will be sentence after the trial for the remaining defendants this autumn.

Alongside the investigation in the UK, police in Vietnam arrested eight people over the deaths, according to state media. 

There was also a significant response from the Vietnamese community in the UK, who paid tribute to those who died. 

Following the discovery of the bodies, members of the Vietnamese community gathered for a vigil at the Church of the Holy Name and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in East London.

More than 100 people gathered as candles arranged to read '39' were at the foot of the altar at the Catholic church, which has a large Vietnamese congregation.

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