Grays lorry deaths: Man admits manslaughter over death of 39 migrantson June 23, 2023 at 2:25 pm

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Marius Mihai Draghici pleads guilty after migrants were found in a lorry in 2019.

Bodies were found in a lorry trailer in Grays, EssexImage source, Reuters

A Romanian man has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese migrants who were found suffocated in a sealed lorry trailer.

The victims, including 10 teenagers, were discovered in Essex in 2019.

Marius Mihai Draghici also admitted one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration at a hearing at the Old Bailey.

The 50-year-old was remanded in custody and Judge Richard Marks KC said he would be sentenced at a later date.

Draghici was detained in Romania last August following the execution of a European Arrest Warrant and was extradited to the UK.

From top left: Dinh Dinh Binh, Nguyen Minh Quang, Nguyen Huy Phong, Le Van Ha, Nguyen Van Hiep, Bui Phan Thang, Nguyen Van Hung, Nguyen Huy Hung, Nguyen Tien Dung, Pham Thi Tra My, Tran Khanh Tho, Nguyen Van Nhan, Vo Ngoc Nam, Vo Van Linh, Nguyen Ba Vu Hung, Vo Nhan Du, Tran Hai Loc, Tran Manh Hung, Nguyen Thi Van, Bui Thi Nhung, Hoang Van Tiep, Tran Thi Ngoc, Phan Thi Thanh, Tran Thi Tho, Duong Minh Tuan, Pham Thi Ngoc Oanh, Tran Thi Mai Nhung, Le Trong Thanh, Nguyen Ngoc Ha, Hoang Van Hoi, Tran Ngoc Hieu, Cao Tien Dung, Dinh Dinh Thai Quyen, Dang Huu Tuyen, Nguyen Dinh Luong, Cao Huy Thanh Nguyen Trong Thai, Nguyen Tho Tuan and Nguyen Dinh Tu

The bodies of the 39 people were found in Grays on 23 October 2019, after the lorry had travelled by boat from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet on the Thames estuary.

An inquest heard their medical cause of death was asphyxia and hyperthermia, as temperatures rose in the back of the sealed lorry container and oxygen levels dropped.

Each of the lorry victims, and their families, had paid significant sums of money to an organised criminal group that promised a better life and safe passage to the UK.

Det Ch Insp Louise Metcalfe said it was “the most complex investigation ever undertaken by Essex Police”.

“We have always maintained that the actions we believed Draghici was responsible for could never go unpunished. We now know they will not,” she added.

Police said Draghici’s role was to be involved in the onward transportation of the migrants once they arrived in the UK.

Four men have been previously jailed over the deaths.

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