DETECTIVES investigating the tragic deaths of 39 Vietnamese citizens found in Grays last year are continuing to make significant progress and making international arrests.
All post-mortem examinations have now been completed and we await the final reports for all 39 victims. The provisional cause of death for those in the lorry was a combination of hypoxia and hyperthermia (overheating) in an enclosed space.
Our teams are continuing to progress hundreds of lines of enquiry and are working with the National Crime Agency and other law enforcement agencies from across the globe to further their lengthy and complex investigation.
Further arrests have also been made in connection with the investigation.
A 22-year-old man was arrested in Northern Ireland on Sunday 9 February, on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating unlawful immigration. He is currently in custody in Essex.
Last week, on the instruction of Essex Police, German authorities and the National Crime Agency carried out an arrest in connection with our investigation.
Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills was detained at Frankfurt Airport on Wednesday 29 January.
Nica was subject of a European Arrest Warrant, which had been successfully applied for by Essex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. He appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’
Court on Saturday 8 February and will next appear at the Old Bailey, London, on 16 March.
He faces charges of 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
A second man appeared in Dublin’s High Court on Tuesday 4 February in connection with the deaths.
Eamonn Harrison, 22, of Mayobridge, Northern Ireland awaits extradition to the UK under the terms of a European Arrest Warrant.
Harrison faces 39 charges of manslaughter and charges for conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
He will appear at the same court again tomorrow, Wednesday 12 February.
As our investigation progresses, we are keen to hear from anyone who has knowledge of two similar journeys that haulage vehicles made into Purfleet on Friday 11 and Friday 18 October 2019. It is believed that lorries were used to facilitate the unlawful entry of people into the country via Purfleet. We believe that these people, or anyone who had knowledge of the journeys, has crucial information to assist our inquiry.
You can call Rayleigh’s Major Crime Team on 101 or submit information, including videos and photos, through our public portal here https://mipp.police.uk/operation/4201020119P15-PO1