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Essex lorry deaths trial: From Belgium to Essex, the journey that killed 39 Vietnamese people


Police and forensic officers at the lorry where 39 bodies of Vietnamese migrants were found (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Police and forensic officers at the lorry where 39 bodies of Vietnamese migrants were found (Stefan Rousseau/PA)


Police and forensic officers at the lorry where 39 bodies of Vietnamese migrants were found (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

October 10: Eamonn Harrison delivers a human cargo to Zeebrugge in Belgium to be transported to Purfleet in Essex.

October 11: At 7am, the trailer containing the migrants is picked up in Purfleet by lorry driver Christopher Kennedy and taken to a drop-off point near Orsett Golf Club. At 8.18am, Gheorghe Nica, Alexandru Hanga, Marius Draghici and Gazmir Nuzi are caught on CCTV allegedly arriving in convoy.

October 14: At 7.25am Kennedy travels from Dover to Calais with the same lorry, but a different trailer. At 11.50pm, Kennedy is stopped at Coquelles, en route to Folkestone via the Eurotunnel. Twenty Vietnamese nationals are discovered in his trailer and taken away by the border authorities, but Kennedy is allowed to continue with his journey. It later transpires two of the migrants are among the victims.

October 17: Harrison makes a second successful run, dropping off a container load of migrants at Zeebrugge with a consignment of biscuits.

October 18: At 7.24am, Kennedy picks up the trailer and takes it to the same pick-up point at Orsett. Valentin Calota is one of the drivers brought by Nica to collect the new arrivals and drive them over the Dartford crossing and into south-east London.

October 22: At 1.41pm Harrison's lorry arrives at Zeebrugge port. At 7.37 pm, young father Nguyen Tho Tuan records a message for his family saying: "It's Tuan. I am sorry. I cannot take care of you. I am sorry. I am sorry. I cannot breathe. I want to come back to my family. Have a good life."

October 23: At 12.18am, the Clementine docks at Purfleet. At 1.07am, Robinson collects the trailer, some 12 hours after it was sealed. He is instructed by Hughes via Snapchat to "give them air quickly don't let them out". At 1.36am, Robinson telephones 999 and requests an ambulance.

October 24: Draghici flies to Bucharest, in Romania, and remains at large.

November 22: Kennedy is arrested after the lorry he is driving on the M40 in Oxfordshire is stopped.

February 7, 2020: Nica is extradited to the UK after being detained in Frankfurt under a European Arrest Warrant.

March 14: Calota is arrested on arrival at Birmingham airport from Romania.

April 8: Robinson pleads guilty at the Old Bailey to 39 counts of manslaughter.

June 23: Hughes is extradited from the Republic of Ireland to the UK and pleads guilty to the manslaughter in August.

July 22: Harrison is extradited to the UK having been detained at Dublin Port, Ireland, under European Arrest Warrant, on October 26 2019.

October 5: Nica and Harrison go on trial at the Old Bailey for manslaughter. Harrison, Calota and Kennedy are accused of being involved in a wider people-smuggling conspiracy, which Nica, Robinson, Hughes and two others have admitted.

Yesterday: they are convicted of manslaughter

Belfast Telegraph