THIRTY-nine Vietnamese migrants found dead in a lorry container had suffocated in baking heat, the Old Bailey heard.
Temperatures in the airtight “tomb” soared to 101F as the refrigeration was off, jurors heard.
Victim Pham Thi Ngoc Oanh, 28, wrote but never sent a text: “Maybe going to die in the container, can’t breathe anymore.”
The group included two 15-year-old boys, ten older teenagers plus male and female adults.
They had paid £10,000 each to be smuggled into the UK last October from Vietnam, the court heard.
They were placed on a lorry in Europe, driven by Eamonn Harrison, to Zeebrugge, Belgium and put on a ferry, it is claimed.
Lorry driver Maurice Robinson collected the container from Purfleet, Essex, after it arrived.
Prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones said Robinson was sent a message saying: “Give them air quickly but don’t let them out.”
He drove out of Purfleet port, stopped and opened the doors to find “the lorry had become a tomb”.
Harrison, 23, of Mayobridge, Co Down, and Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Basildon, Essex, deny manslaughter. Nica admits conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
Harrison denies a people smuggling conspiracy charge as do fellow trucker Christopher Kennedy, 24, of Co Armagh, and Valentin Calota, 37, from Birmingham.
Robinson, 26, of Craigavon, Co Armagh, and Ronan Hughes, 40, who ran a haulage firm in Co Monaghan, admit manslaughter and conspiracy.
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.