Jury out in trial over deaths of 39 migrants found in trailer

A jury has retired to consider verdicts in the trial of alleged people-smugglers linked to the deaths of 39 migrants.

The Vietnamese migrants, aged between 15 and 44, were found dead in the back of a trailer in Essex on October 23 last year.

They had suffocated in sweltering temperatures as the airtight container was shipped from Zeebrugge to Purfleet, the Old Bailey has heard.

Alleged key organiser Gheorghe Nica, 43, from Basildon, in Essex, and lorry driver Eamonn Harrison, 23, from County Down, have denied 39 counts of manslaughter.

Court artist sketch of Christopher Kennedy (left) and Valentin Calota (right) on trial at the Old Bailey
Court artist sketch of Christopher Kennedy (left) and Valentin Calota (right) on trial at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Harrison, lorry driver Christopher Kennedy, 24, from County Armagh, and Valentin Calota, 38, from Birmingham, have pleaded not guilty to being part of a people smuggling conspiracy.

Nica has admitted a limited role but denied involvement in the fatal run.

At 1pm on Friday, Mr Justice Sweeney sent jurors out to consider verdicts following the 10-week trial.

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