Jurors heard that a dying victim made a tragic recording for his family saying that he was sorry and that he couldn’t take care of them. That he couldn’t breathe and to have a good life.
A trial at the Old Bailey heard gruelling details of the last hours of the lives of 39 migrants who perished inside a lorry container in October last year.
Irish truck driver Eammon Harrison, 23, and British Romanian Gheorghe Nica, 43, are indicted of the slaying of the non-EU citizens who were discovered dead in a trailer near Grays, Essex – they both deny the 39 counts of manslaughter.
The audio message was made by Nguyen Tho Tuan, 25, for his wife, children and mother at 7.37 pm after the phone signal in the trailer cut out.
It was told that the painful tapes made by the Vietnamese nationals in their last moments alive were played to the court as they tried in vain to call for help from the outside world, but their bodies weren’t found until the next morning.
Shortly before 7 pm on October 22, a call was made to 113, which jurors were told was important because in Vietnam that’s the equivalent of 999.
Pham Thi Tra My took photographs of herself as she endeavoured to make three calls only minutes apart. None of those calls were successful.
Jurors were told that the temperature inside the container had jumped to 35C by 6.25 pm and the court was shown pictures taken by 25-year-old Pham Thi Tra May after the heat started to reach the excruciating highs.
The court heard that by 6.59 pm, another victim had endeavoured to call emergency services and the prosecutor said that the air in the trailer would have become tainted after around nine hours of confinement and that the migrants would have begun to die shortly after, at around 10 to 10.30 pm.
Cellsite data from the victim’s phone positioned them in different places around Brussels and Paris the day before they died, indicating they transited northbound to the Belgian border.
The jurors heard that Harrison then arranged to meet the migrants at Chemin Noord Straete, France, where they arrived in taxis and concealed themselves in an agricultural shed until he collected them.
It was said that passerby Laetitia Mockelyn witnessed the rendezvous and saw the Vietnamese nationals head into their temporary refuge before leaping back into the back of a lorry shortly after.
And it’s an extremely difficult thing to consider, regarding those people in sheer hysteria and dread, knowing their lives were coming to an end, locked in there and looking at others dying around them and they must have been poorly treated in their own country to jeopardise their lives to get here and I feel for them and their families to die like this, they were very desperate.
All lives matter regardless of the circumstances and these people were desperate and remember that before you judge because we have no idea what we would do put in that position and it would be lovely to see some compassion and empathy for the demise of a fellow human being.
We should all be showing some humanity and hope that everyone’s families don’t have to be put in a similarly horrific situation.
Often these victims are trafficked through threats of death, or threats to kill their families and if this is the case then we need to condemn the traffickers, but please don’t reprimand the victims and I do shake my head because there is so much ignorance around.