UK Court Convicts Two Men Over Death Of 39 Vietnamese Migrants

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.


Two people were found guilty on Monday of manslaughter and people smuggling over the gruesome discovery of 39 dead Vietnamese migrants in the back of a lorry in England last year.

The bodies of the men and women were found inside a sealed container near London in October 2019 after suffocating in sweltering temperatures.

Lorry driver Eamonn Harrison, 24, from Northern Ireland, and Romanian national Gheorghe Nica, 43, were found guilty on of 39 counts of manslaughter by a London court.

They are expected to be sentenced early in January.

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Christopher Kennedy, 24, and Valentin Calota, 38, were also convicted for their part in the smuggling operation after the 10-week trial.

All four were found guilty over their roles in a lucrative smuggling ring which prosecutors said had been motivated by greed.

Home Secretary (interior minister) Priti Patel said Monday’s verdict had motivated her “to do all I can to go after the people smugglers who prey on the vulnerable and trade in human misery”.

“I’m determined to bring callous people smugglers to justice and keep our communities safe from the actions of horrendous organised crime groups.”

Monday’s convictions brings the total number found guilty in the UK in connection to the crime to eight.

Prosecutors are considering charges against a further three people.

Maurice Robinson, 26, who collected the container and found the bodies, had already pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter and to conspiring in people-smuggling.

Haulage firm boss Ronan Hughes, 41, has also admitted 39 manslaughter charges.

– Left messages for families –
The bodies were discovered at the southeastern English port of Purfleet after being sealed inside the container for at least 12 hours, in unbearably high temperatures.

A forensic expert calculated it would have taken about nine hours for the air to turn toxic in the trailer, with death coming soon after.

The victims were all aged between 15 and 44.

Prosecutors have said the trapped Vietnamese were unable to get a phone signal inside the container, whose cooling system was turned off.

Mobile phones recovered from the bodies of the 39 victims showed they had tried to raise the alarm and left messages for the families as they ran out of air.

Others had used a metal pole to try to punch a hole through the roof or attract attention, the court heard.

During the trial, British police officer Jack Emerson described finding the trailer “full of bodies” when he first arrived on the scene and searched for signs of life.

He said he was unable to check if all of those inside were still alive, as they were “closely packed” in the back of the truck.

The deaths of the Vietnamese victims in the UK have highlighted the vast and unscrupulous trafficking networks spanning the globe.

Many of them had come from poorer regions of Vietnam with their families, and like others, were plunged into thousands of dollars of debt to people smugglers to pay for the dangerous journeys.

Seven individuals were convicted in September in Vietnam for varying degrees of involvement in the trafficking in the country’s central Ha Tinh province.

Investigations in France and Belgium also led to dozens of suspects being charged following an investigation led by the EU’s law enforcement cooperation agency Eurojust.


UK To Pay More To Victims Of Immigrant Clampdown

 (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)


Britain on Monday announced an overhaul of the compensation scheme for victims of its clampdown on the “Windrush” generation of immigrants, with increased and faster pay-outs.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Bishop Derek Webley, co-chairs of the cross-government working group on Windrush, wrote in The Times they recognised the need to “go further and faster to help those who need it” following complaints about the scheme.

In 2017, the Windrush scandal caused uproar after it emerged a generation of Britons of Caribbean origin who moved to the UK legally between 1948 and the early 1970s had been wrongly detained or deported as illegal immigrants.

Under the changes, the minimum payment for victims will be raised from £250 to £10,000 ($335 to $13,400, €276 to €11,000), while the maximum payment will rise from £10,000 to £100,000.

The plans will also include “options for higher awards in exceptional circumstances”.

So far, the compensation scheme has paid out more than £2 million and offered £1 million more.

But the working group said it needed to go further to address the damage done to those they said had been “so badly let down”.

“We want these changes to make a real difference to people’s lives, and urge everyone who may have been affected to apply,” Patel and Webley wrote.

“We hope these changes will go some way to ease their lives, and enable them to move forward with hope and determination,” they added.

Last month, a probe by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found the government broke the law with its hardline immigration policy and characterised the deportations as a “shameful stain”.

The EHRC lambasted the “hostile environment” policy against the Windrush generation, introduced in 2012 by then home secretary Theresa May, who went on to become prime minister.

The Empire Windrush was one of the ships that brought workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, to help fill post-war UK labour shortages.

Many of those caught up in the clampdown ultimately lost homes and jobs and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.


UK Announces £200m Support For North East As Johnson, Patel Visit Nigeria

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson unveiled the British High Commission’s new office in Abuja in the morning today, Thursday, August 31, 2017


The United Kingdom has announced a humanitarian support worth £200million for Nigeria’s insurgency-ravaged North East.

UK’s International Development Secretary Priti Patel announced this today when he and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Borno State, which is at the heart of the insurgency.

The support is an allocation of DFID Nigeria’s budget for four years from 2018 – 2022, building on UK’s existing £100 million of humanitarian support for 2017 that Patel announced earlier this year, according to a statement from the British High Commission said.

It is also part of the UK’s efforts aimed at averting famine and building stability and security in the region and will boost the DFID’s humanitarian programme by enabling the provision of lifesaving food for more than 1.5 million people on the brink of famine.

Furthermore, it will, among other things, allow for the treatment for up to 120,000 children at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition; and help keep 100,000 girls and boys in school to get a decent education, providing a brighter future for the next generation.

Johnson and Patel are on their first joint visit to Nigeria and were in Borno to assess the impact of the UK’s security and humanitarian efforts, and how the British military have been providing training to Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram on the front line.

Commenting on the impact of the insurgency, Patel said, “It is catastrophic that at least 20,000 people have been murdered by Boko Haram’s terrorist regime, and over five million people have been left hungry and many homeless. Babies’ bodies are shutting down and mothers who have lost everything are fighting to keep their children alive.”

He promised that the UK would not turn its back on people living in danger and desperation.

To this end, he said, “We are leading the way on the international stage through our world-class development, defence and diplomacy, providing a lifeline to over 1.5 million people on the brink of famine, tackling Boko Haram and pushing for global aid reform to deliver help more effectively.”

Johnson, on his part, gave an insight into his experience during the visit and is proud of the UK’s support.

“Boko Haram has generated suffering, instability, and poverty on a huge scale, with profound knock on effects far from Nigeria’s borders, and I am proud of Britain’s commitment to supporting the Nigerian people in tackling terror,” Johnson said.

“In Maiduguri I met casualties of Boko Haram violence, including bomb and gunshot victims, and saw for myself the displacement of people that brutality and poverty have created.

“Our military, diplomatic and development assistance is making a big difference. The British military has to date trained 28,000 Nigerian troops, equipping them with skills to turn the tide against Boko Haram, while our humanitarian aid is alleviating widespread suffering. This is about helping a Commonwealth partner in its time of need as well as addressing the root causes of international challenges such as migration.”

The new package of emergency relief announced today also includes the restoration of key infrastructure and services in north east Nigeria.