A remote farm in the Essex countryside was used as the drop-off for prohibited immigrants smuggled across the English Channel, an Old Bailey jury was informed.
Witnesses saw the immigrants leap from the back of a truck and enter a fleet of waiting vehicles which then drove them away to a safe house, the court heard.
The driver of the lorry that day was Christopher Kennedy, 23, from Northern Ireland, and supposedly part of a gang smuggling unlawful immigrants into the UK, jurors were told.
Kennedy is among 4 men on trial over the deaths of 39 Vietnamese men, ladies and children who were found suffocated in the back of another truck trailer near Purfleet Docks 2 weeks later on 23 October 2019.
He rejects a conspiracy to assist illegal migration, but was not there on the night the Vietnamese victims passed away.
On the 2nd day of the trial, prosecutor Expense Emlyn Jones informed jurors how members of a gang “effectively” smuggled a previous group of illegal immigrants into Britain on 11 October.
He stated the immigrants, each of whom had paid the smugglers a minimum of ₤10,000, had gotten here by ferry in a truck trailer delivered from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
Kennedy got the trailer early in the early morning and drove it about 7 miles from Purfleet to a farm near a trailer park and golf course.
The district attorney stated: “For no imaginable genuine factor, Kennedy drove his lorry from the port to Collingwood Farm in Orsett, something of a backwater.”
A couple living at the farm watched what happened after the lorry had parked close by, jurors were informed.
” As they watched they saw the truck doors open and what they thought were about 15 to 20 people jump out of the back of the lorry and to the waiting vehicles,” Mr Emlyn Jones said.
” And those automobiles, fully-laden with migrants, drove away at speed. No messing about. It was a quick turnaround. No-one was hanging around, for obvious factors.”
He informed the court the immigrants were driven south over the Dartford Crossing into Kent and after that to south London, “no doubt to a safe house”.
The prosecutor said that 4 days later Kennedy was dropped in France as he drove a lorry towards the Channel Tunnel and 20 Vietnamese nationals were found hidden in his trailer.
They were removed by border officials however Kennedy was permitted to drive on to the UK.
He stated that a minimum of two of the migrants hung on 14 October were amongst the 39 who suffocated in the gang’s trailer a week later on.
” These particular victims had protected the services of the organised criminal network to get them to the UK,” he stated.
” Travel was offered 14 October – however they were found and they were foiled. So what occurs? Well, undoubtedly, they need a fallback, they try once again. The organisers set up a replacement journey – which again includes the same network of individuals smugglers, motorists, trucks, and so on.”
Kennedy is among 4 guys in the dock for a trial that is anticipated to last at least six weeks.
The district attorney stated Eamonn Harrison, 23, from Northern Ireland, drove the trailer with illegal immigrants in it and dropped it off at Zeebrugge on 10 October.
It is alleged he was the chauffeur on the same journey on 22 October on the night the 39 Vietnamese victims died.
He denies 39 manslaughter charges and a conspiracy to help illegal immigration.
Gheorge Nica, 43, from Basildon, Essex, rejects the murder charges, however has confessed conspiracy to assist illegal migration.
The prosecutor said Nica existed on the night and his role was to organise transport to pick up the migrants from the truck and take them somewhere else.
So, too, does Valentin Calota, 37, from Birmingham.
Truck chauffeur Maurice Robinson, 25, from Northern Ireland, has actually confessed manslaughter, conspiracy to help illegal migration and getting criminal home.
Haulier Ronan Hughes, 40, from Ireland, has admitted murder and conspiracy to help unlawful migration.
Gazmir Nuzi, 42, from North London and Alexandru Hanga have admitted conspiracy to help illegal immigration.