Essex lorry deaths: Two more arrests in connection to 39 Vietnamese nationals found in trailer

11 February 2020, 17:29

Police and forensic officers investigate the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry on October 23, 2019
Police and forensic officers investigate the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry on October 23, 2019. Picture: Getty

By Matt Drake

Two men have been arrested by Essex Police in connection with 39 Vietnamese nationals who were found dead in a lorry trailer last year.

Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills, was arrested at Frankfurt Airport on January 29. A 22-year-old man was also arrested on February 9 in Northern Ireland in connection with the deaths.

A European Arrest Warrant had been issued for Nica who appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on February 8 and faces charges of 39 counts of manslaughter, as well as one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. He is due to appear at the Old Bailey in London on March 16.

Eamonn Harrison, 23, from Mayobridge in Northern Ireland - who was arrested last year - is still awaiting extradition to the UK from Ireland. He faces 39 charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Officers added that post-mortem examinations had been completed and the provisional cause of death for all those who died was a combination of lack of oxygen and overheating in an enclosed space.

Emergency services had been called to an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, shortly after a lorry arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Ten teenagers, including two 15-year-old boys, were among 39 Vietnamese nationals whose bodies were discovered in the lorry trailer in the early hours of October 23.

Police are still investigating and want to speak to anyone "who has knowledge of two similar journeys that haulage vehicles made into Purfleet on Friday 11 and Friday 18 October 2019".

Essex Police added: "It is believed that lorries were used to facilitate the unlawful entry of people into the country via Purfleet. We believe that these people, or anyone who had knowledge of the journeys, has crucial information to assist our inquiry."

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