NI people smugglers jailed after death of refugee in container
Two people smugglers from Northern Ireland have been jailed after an asylum seeker died in a container as he and 34 others tried to reach Britain.
Lorry drivers Stephen McLaughlin (36) and Martin McGlinchey (49) were convicted of conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry into the UK after a re-trial.
The Afghan Sikhs, including 15 children, were discovered in August 2014 after workers at Tilbury Docks in Essex heard banging noises and cries for help.
Among them was Meet Singh Kapoor (40), who died of natural causes during a ferry crossing from Belgium. His family was with him and watched him die in the container, which had just two air holes and no toilets.
At Basildon Crown Court, jurors were told the asylum seekers were the "human cargo" of a "sophisticated international organisation" of people smugglers.
McLaughlin and McGlinchey were part of a team responsible for arranging the logistics of the people-smuggling operation.
Yesterday, McLaughlin, of Rose Park, Limavady, Co Londonderry, was jailed for eight years, and McGlinchey, from Derryloughlan Road, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, was imprisoned for nine years.
A third man, Taha Sharif (39), of High Cross Road, Tottenham, north London, was found guilty of the same offence following a trial last July. He will be sentenced on June 23.
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore, of Essex Police, said afterwards: "Vulnerable people seeking help were treated in an appalling way at the hands of these greedy criminals, which prevented any prospect of medical help for Mr Kapoor.
"My thoughts remain very much with his wife, children, family and friends, and the other surviving asylum seekers who endured such distressing and shocking conditions."