People trafficker jailed for more than 12 years - after 39 Vietnamese migrants died in a lorry container

11 July 2023, 17:23 | Updated: 11 July 2023, 17:40

Marius Draghici, 50, (L) was jailed at the Old Bailey after he admitted several counts of manslaughter after 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a lorry container in Grays Essex
Marius Draghici, 50, (L) was jailed at the Old Bailey after he admitted several counts of manslaughter after 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a lorry container in Grays Essex. Picture: PA/Getty

By Chay Quinn

A people trafficker has been sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison after the deaths of 39 immigrants inside his lorry container in 2019.

Marius Draghici, 50, admitted 39 counts of manslaughter at The Old Bailey and was jailed today for the deaths and one charge of assisting unlawful migration.

The bodies of the 39 Vietnamese people were found on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, in October 2019.

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.

Mr Justice Garnham said Draghici "was a small but essential cog in the wheels of this criminal conspiracy" that "put would-be migrants at risk of death".

Marius Draghici, 50, was jailed at the Old Bailey after he admitted several counts of manslaughter after 39 Vietnamese migrants (pictured) were found dead in a lorry container in Grays Essex
39 Vietnamese migrants perished in the back of the lorry after being subjected to low temperatures and a lack of oxygen. Picture: Getty
The bodies were found in a lorry on an industrial park in Grays, Essex.
The bodies were found in a lorry on an industrial park in Grays, Essex. Picture: Getty

Draghici fled the country after the bodies were discovered and was detained by police in Romania last August and extradited back to the UK.

Bill Emlyn Jones KC said Draghici was the "right-hand man" to ringleader Gheorghe Nica.

Gheorghe Nica, 43, and Eamonn Harrison, 24, were found guilty at the Old Bailey in December 2020.

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.

The Vietnamese ringleader of the gang responsible for the deaths was jailed in January 2022 alongside 18 others involved in the scheme.

Vo Van Hong was one of 18 people sentenced by a Belgian court 16 months ago.

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

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