Trafficking ringleader jailed in Belgium over Essex lorry deaths

19 January 2022, 16:36

The 39 victims were found in a lorry in Grays, Essex
The 39 victims were found in a lorry in Grays, Essex. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The Vietnamese ringleader of the gang responsible for the deaths of 39 people found in a lorry in south-east England has been jailed for 15 years.

Vo Van Hong was one of 18 people sentenced by a Belgian court on Wednesday.

Others were given sentences of between one and 10 years while five were found not guilty.

READ MORE: Essex lorry deaths: Four members of people smuggling gang jailed for almost 80 years

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It is unclear if they will appeal against their sentences.

All those on trial in Bruges were either Vietnamese or Belgians of Vietnamese origin. 

The victims, aged between 15 and 44, were found in Grays, Essex, on October 23, 2019, inside a refrigerated container that had arrived by ferry from Belgium.

They were found to have died of hyperthermia and asphyxiation as a result of very high temperatures and a lack of oxygen.

The migrants came from impoverished villages and had paid people-smugglers thousands of dollars to take them on risky journeys to what they hoped would be better lives abroad.

Seven men have already been jailed in Britian for their involvement in the deaths.