Men jailed following deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals ordered to pay back £30,000 of criminal earnings

Four men who were jailed following our investigation into the tragic deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals in October 2019 have been ordered to pay back more than £30,000 of their criminal earnings.

Maurice Robinson, 26, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, was sentenced to 13 years and four months in prison for 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

He has been ordered to pay back £21,262.

Christopher Kennedy, 24, of Corkley Road, Darkley, County Armagh, was sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiracy to assist illegal immigration.

He must pay back £6,094.

Valentin Calota, 38, of Cossingham Road, Birmingham, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for conspiracy to assist illegal immigration.

He must pay £1,137.

Alexandru-Ovidiu Hangu, 29, of Hobart Road, Tilbury, was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.

The judge ordered that he must pay £3,000

During the investigation, it was discovered that significant sums of money were made from this exploitation.

Police worked with the CPS to pursue illegal finances and ensure that no one profits from this tragedy.

Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearings – or confiscation hearings – have since been held at the Old Bailey in London.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe, said: “These men thought they could make a comfortable living by putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk.

“What they did was immoral and dangerous, and I welcome the order made by the courts that prohibits them from retaining money generated through ill-gotten means.

“These orders once again demonstrate the lengths we will go to at Essex Police to deliver justice to the families of those who lost their lives in the most tragic of ways.

“Whilst I appreciate a court order will not bring their loved ones back, I hope our ongoing determination to bring those involved in this dangerous people smuggling operation to justice brings some comfort.

“My thoughts will always be with the families of the victims.”

Specialist Prosecutor Darren Fox, from the CPS, added: “Maurice Robinson, Christopher Kennedy, Valentin Calota and Alexandru-Ovidiu Hangu profited from smuggling people into the country, a practice which ended in 39 people dying in the most horrible circumstance.

“The CPS, working with police financial investigators, found the four profited alongside other co-conspirators from this incident. However, we will never know the true extent of the benefit from this tragedy.

“The Confiscation Order set by the Judge reflects the assets available to the three defendants. We will continue to enforce robustly, the confiscation order and ensure that the money will be paid as compensation to the bereaved families”.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]