Published: 16:14, 30 November 2019
The bodies of 39 people found in lorry near the Dartford Crossing have been returned to Vietnam, police have confirmed.
Essex Police confirmed today that the victims, who were discovered in the refrigerated trailer in Grays, Essex, in October, had been repatriated, and offered condolences to their families.
The bodies were discovered on October 23, and investigations are ongoing in the UK and Vietnam.
Lorry driver Maurice Robinson was subsequently charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, and has admitted conspiring with others to assist illegal immigration.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, who is leading the investigation, said today: “On behalf of everyone at Essex Police I would like to extend our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims as they are reunited with their loved ones following their tragic deaths in October. Our thoughts are with them.
“While the process to repatriate the victims back to Vietnam from the UK has concluded, I continue to have detectives and police staff working tirelessly on what is a large and complex investigation
“On 23 October, 39 men, women and children died needlessly as a result of this fateful journey and we remain committed to ensuring that we do all we can to bring those involved to justice.”
HM Senior Coroner for Essex, Mrs Caroline Beasley-Murray, said: “I am grateful to Essex Police, the forensic pathologists, Broomfield mortuary staff along with all the others who ensured a speedy conclusion to the identification of the victims.
"I am glad that all the victims of this appalling tragedy have now been repatriated and our thoughts remain with the bereaved families at this dreadful time for them.
"It is important that not just the living but also the dead are treated with respect. As William Gladstone once said: 'Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, their loyalty to high ideals.'
The first bodies were flown to Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport on November 27, and ambulances took them to their family villages.
More by this authorChris Hunter