'Human trafficker' denies helping smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants into UK who died in back of lorry

‘Human trafficker’ denies helping smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants into UK who died in back of refrigerated lorry

  • Gazmir Nuzi, 43, denied one count of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration
  • Irishman Ronan Hughes, 40, made first appearance in court after he was extradited on Wednesday
  • The bodies of the Vietnamese nationals were discovered in Essex on October 23

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An alleged human trafficker has denied that he helped smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants into the UK who died in the back of a refrigerated lorry.

Six people charged over the deaths of the 39 migrants appeared at the Old Bailey today.

Gazmir Nuzi, 43, was allegedly part of an international gang ferrying non-EU citizens into the country.

He appeared at the Old Bailey on video link and denied one count of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration. 

Six people charged over the deaths of the 39 migrants who were found in a lorry in Essex (pictured) in October appeared at the Old Bailey today

Also appearing at the Old Bailey, for the first time, today was Eamonn Harrison, 23, who is accused of driving the trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before it sailed to Purfleet in England.

He is charged alongside Ronan Hughes, 40, with causing the 39 deaths and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

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

All three spoke only to confirm their names. 

Two other people, Gheorghe Nica and Valentin Colota also made an appearance at the Old Bailey.

'Human trafficker' denies helping smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants into UK who died in back of lorry

The victims had died up to 12 hours before driver Maurice Robinson (pictured), 25, hitched it to his Scania cab in Essex

Truck driver Maurice Robinson, 25, has admitted killing eight women and 31 men found in the back of his lorry on an industrial estate near Grays, Essex, on October 23.

The victims have been identified as coming from various provinces of Vietnam with the youngest being two boys aged 15.

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

Jonathan Polnay, prosecuting, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

'Human trafficker' denies helping smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants into UK who died in back of lorry 'Human trafficker' denies helping smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants into UK who died in back of lorry

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

'Human trafficker' denies helping smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants into UK who died in back of lorry 'Human trafficker' denies helping smuggle 39 Vietnamese migrants into UK who died in back of lorry

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

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 six to eight weeks starting 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 transferring 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.

Alexandru Hanga, 28, of Hobart Road, Tilbury, has admitted 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. 

Harrison, 23, from Mayobridge, County Down, is charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration along with Hughes, from County Armagh in the Republic of Ireland.

Who were the 39 people who died in the Essex lorry container? 

These are the names of the victims of the Essex truck tragedy are: 

Pham Thi Tra My, a 26-year-old woman from Ha Tinh

Nguyen Dinh Lurong, a 20-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Nguyen Huy Phong, a 35-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Vo Nhan Du, a 19-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Tran Manh Hung, a 37-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Tran Khanh Tho, a 18-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Vo Van Linh, a 25-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Nguyen Van Nhan, a 33-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Bui Phan Thang, a 37-year-old man from Ha Tinh

Nguyen Huy Hung, a 15-year-old boy from Ha Tinh

Tran Thi Tho, a 21-year-old woman from Nghe An

Bui Thi Nhung, a 19-year-old woman from Nghe An

Vo Ngoc Nam, a 28-year-old man from Nghe An

Nguyen Dinh Tu, a 26-year-old man from Nghe An

Le Van Ha, a 30-year-old man from Nghe An

Tran Thi Ngoc, a 19-year-old woman from Nghe An

Nguyen Van Hung, a 33-year-old man from Nghe An

Hoang Van Tiep, a 18-year-old man from Nghe An

Cao Tien Dung, a 37-year-old man from Nghe An

Cao Huy Thanh, a 33-year-old man from Nghe An

Tran Thi Mai Nhung, a 18-year-old woman from Nghe An

Nguyen Minh Quang, a 20-year-old man from Nghe An

Le Trong Thanh, a 44-year-old man from Dien Chau

Pham Thi Ngoc Oanh, a 28-year-old woman from Nghe An

Hoang Van Hoi, a 24-year-old man from Nghe An

Nguyen Tho Tuan, a 25-year-old man from Nghe An

Dang Huu Tuyen, a 22-year-old man from Nghe An

Nguyen Trong Thai, a 26-year-old man from Nghe An

Nguyen Van Hiep, a 24-year-old man from Nghe An

Nguyen Thi Van, a 35-year-old woman from Nghe An

Tran Hai Loc, a 35-year-old man from Nghe An

Duong Minh Tuan, a 27-year-old man from Quang Binh

Nguyen Ngoc Ha, a 32-year-old man from Quang Binh

Nguyen Tien Dung, a 33-year-old man from Quang, Binh

Phan Thi Thanh, a 41-year-old woman from Hai Phong

Nguyen Ba Vu Hung, a 34-year-old man from Thua Tien Hue

Dinh Dinh Thai Quyen, a 18-year-old man from Hai Phong

Tran Ngoc Hieu, a 17-year-old boy from Hai Duong

Dinh Dinh Binh, a 15-year-old boy from Hai Phong