Detective Inspector Michelle Stoten was recognised with a Queen’s Police Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.
And she has now been presented with her medal by Prince Charles at an Investiture at Windsor Castle.
Michelle was one of six Essex Police officers and members of police staff honoured with either the QPM or the British Empire Medal and one of three Essex officers recognised for their work during the biggest investigation Essex Police has ever undertaken – the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people who suffocated in an articulated lorry trailer.
Ultimately, four men were jailed for a total of 78 years and four months for offences ranging from manslaughter to people smuggling and conspiring to bring people into the country unlawfully.
Following the discovery of the victims in Grays on October 23, 2019, more than 1,300 officers, staff and volunteers worked on the case.
D I Stoten acted as the investigation’s family liaison co-ordinator.
Most of the victims’ families lived more than 6,000 miles away but, despite language barriers and a different policing style, she liaised with the Vietnamese Government and law enforcement, enlisting the help of translators and experienced family liaison officers (FLOs) to gain the trust of the grieving families.
Her time, patience and resourcefulness allowed for support to be given to families and communities over differing timescales, taking into account differing religions, faiths and cultures, to ensure that each victim and their family were treated with respect and dignity.
Michelle said after her Investiture: “I feel very honoured and privileged to have been recognised for the work done on the investigation.”