Thursday 7 November 2019 2:11 pm

Essex lorry deaths: Police identify all 39 Vietnamese victims

All 39 Vietnamese people found dead in a lorry in Essex have been formally identified and their families told.

The 31 men and eight women, all of whom were believed to be migrants, were found in the back of a refrigerated lorry in Grays on October 23.

Detectives had been working alongside Vietnamese officials in an attempt to identify the victims, whose families are now planning funerals in their homeland. The bodies will be returned to the families. The names of the victims have not been officially released.

Files were brought before an Identification Commission, and Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray has formally managed to identify the victims.

She said: “May I take this opportunity to offer my deepest condolences to the victims’ families.”

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, who led the investigation, added: “This is an important step in the investigation and enables us to work with our Vietnamese Police colleagues to support the families of those victims.

“It is only right that we provide an opportunity for family members to take in the news confirming the death of their loved ones before releasing any further information.

“Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those whose tragic journey ended on our shores.”

Mo Robinson, the 25-year-old driver of the lorry, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, money laundering and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Police have also begun extradition proceedings to bring 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison into the UK from Ireland, where he is in custody.

Harrison faces charges of 39 counts of manslaughter, along with human trafficking and immigration offences. 

Detectives have also called on Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, to hand themselves in. The brothers are thought to have links with the road haulage and shipping industries. They are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.

All four men are from Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile in Vietnam, police have arrested two people in Ha Tinh province and nine in Nghe An, on charges of organising to have people smuggled abroad.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called the incident a “serious humanitarian tragedy”.