Lancashire

Morecambe Bay cockler gangmaster escapes further action

Cockle picker in Morecambe Bay
Image caption The 23 men and women were swept out to sea as they harvested cockles in the bay

A gangmaster jailed over the deaths of 21 Chinese cockle pickers will face no further action, despite the discovery of another body in Morecambe Bay.

DNA tests confirmed that a skull found near Silverdale Point in July was that of missing cockler Liu Qin Ying.

Lin Liang Ren is serving 14 years for the manslaughter of the 21 people whose remains had already been found.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has told police that a new prosecution is not in the public interest.

Liu Qin Ying, 37, was one of 23 people who disappeared in the 2004 tragedy. An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned in Preston on 20 October.

The victim's husband, 37-year-old Yu Hua Xu, also died that night, leaving their son, Zhou, then aged 13, orphaned in China.

The remains of 22 people have now been recovered. The body of one cockler remains undiscovered.

Duncan Birrell, Crown advocate from CPS Lancashire, said: "I have now concluded that it is not in the public interest for Lin Liang Ren, the gangmaster responsible for those who lost their lives that night, to be prosecuted again for manslaughter."

Mr Birrell said the original investigation had reached the "sad but inevitable conclusion" that Liu Qin Ying had perished with her husband.

"Throughout the trial the prosecution explained to the court that the overall loss of life was greater than the 21 victims who had been found, as it was highly likely that two more cockle pickers had drowned," he added.

"In his sentencing the judge made it clear that he had considered the whole of Lin Liang Ren's criminal conduct in deciding how long he should spend in prison.

"I have concluded that if Liu Qin Ying's body had been discovered before the trial the overall sentence would have not have been different."

All 23 Chinese men and women were swept out to sea as they harvested cockles against a rising tide in Morecambe Bay in February 2004.

Lin Liang Ren was jailed at Preston Crown Court in 2006 after being convicted of 21 counts of manslaughter, immigration offences and perverting the course of justice.

He will be deported when he completes his sentence.

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