Tilbury docks people-smuggling trial: 'Human cargo' sealed in container

Still from video showing stowaways being aided near container at Tilbury Docks on 16 August 2014 Image copyright UGC
Image caption Thirty-five migrants were discovered in a shipping container at Tilbury Docks last August

"Human cargo" sealed inside a container brought into the UK made cries for help heard by port workers, a jury heard.

Meet Singh Kapoor was found dead in the container being transported from Belgium to Tilbury in August 2014.

Mr Kapoor, his wife and two sons were among 35 Afghan Sikhs in the container, Basildon Crown Court was told.

Northern Irish lorry drivers Stephen McLaughlin, 36, and Martin McGlinchey, 49, deny conspiring to smuggle illegal immigrants into the UK.

The court heard that the refugees were believed to have fled Kabul after suffering persecution, and were living illegally in Belgium and France.

Jurors were told the two men were part of a team responsible for arranging the transport logistics of the operation, allegedly organising for the container to be sent from Dover to France so it could be picked up by an innocent man before being loaded with illegal immigrants on a Belgian industrial estate.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Police were called to Tilbury Docks after banging was heard in a container

Michael Goodwin, prosecuting, told the court the plan was foiled when port workers in Tilbury heard the screams of those in the container.

After the operation was sprung, he said, Mr McLaughlin, from Limavady, Londonderry; and Mr McGlinchey, of Coalisland, County Tyrone; frantically tried to cover their tracks, destroying mobile phones and Sim cards which might implicate them.

Mr McGlinchey sold a car he thought could link him to two co-conspirators, while Mr McLaughlin booked a short family holiday.

Mr Goodwin said the pair were motivated by financial gain, and that the "very considerable risks" involved meant they would have made a lot of money if the plan had been successful.

The trial continues.

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