Men jailed for over 92 years for tragic deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals

Alexander Ovidio Hanga, Christopher Kennedy, Eamonn Harrison, Gheorghe Nica, Maurice Robinson, Ronan Hughes and Valentin...

Alexander Hanga, Christopher Kennedy, Eamonn Harrison, Gheorghe Nica, Maurice Robinson, Ronan Hughes and Valentin Colota were sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday, January 22 - Credit: Essex Police/Thames Valley Police

Seven men have been sentenced to a combined 92 years and 10 months in prison for the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese nationals who found dead in a lorry in Grays after being 'transported worse than animals'.

Essex Police were called to Eastern Avenue in Grays, Essex, on October 23, 2019, after lorry driver Maurice Robinson called an ambulance.

When officers arrived they found 39 victims inside who had died of a lack of oxygen and overheating in an enclosed space.

Justice has been served to the families of the 39 Vietnamese nationals who were found dead in a lorry in Grays, Essex, in...

Justice has been served to the families of the 39 Vietnamese nationals who were found dead in a lorry in Grays, Essex, in October 2019 - Credit: Essex Police

During the course of the subsequent investigation eight men were charged with offences relating to the deaths, with seven imprisoned for manslaughter after sentencing at the Old Bailey on Friday, January 22.

  • Maurice Robinson, 26, of Laurel Drive in Craigavon in Northern Ireland
  • Ronan Hughes, 41, of Co. Monaghan in Ireland
  • Gheorghe Nica, 44, of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills
  • Eamonn Harrison, 24, of Mayobridge in Northern Ireland
  • Christopher Kennedy, 24, of Corkley Road in Darkley, County Armagh
  • Valentin Calota, 38, of Cossingham Road in Birmingham
  • Alexandru Hanga, 28, of Hobart Road in Tilbury

Gazmir Nuzi, 43, was sentenced on Monday, January 11, after entering a guilty plea to assisting the unlawful immigration of two men who had been smuggled into the UK. He had already served his 10 month sentence.

Chief Constable of Essex Police, Ben-Julian Harrington,  said the officers who attended the scene that morning will never forget what they saw in the trailer.

Most Read

"Every person in that trailer had left behind a family," he said. "They had been promised safe passage to our shores and they were lied to.

"They were left to die, all because of the greed of the men who have been sentenced today. Their families, most of them thousands of miles away, have had their heartbreak played out for the world to see.

"They’ve kept their dignity, and they put their trust in us to deliver justice. I promised them that we would, and my teams have done just that."

Senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “I hope that the quality and the detail of the evidence, and the high level of exposure that this case has had, demonstrates that our pursuit of those involved in these wicked crimes is unrelenting.

“May this serve as a warning to those who think it’s okay to prey on the vulnerabilities of migrants and their families, transporting them in a way worse than we would transport animals. My message to you is that we will find you and we will stop you."

The investigation was the biggest seen in Essex Police history.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter