A Vietnamese woman believed to have been among the 39 migrants who died in the back of a lorry is said to have reached Britain days earlier from France but was deported.
Pham Thi Tra My ’s brother has claimed the 26-year-old was picked up by police after she arrived. He said in an interview: She was arrested a few days ago and they returned her to France. Now we heard she might have died.
Thi Tra My had sent her parents a heartbreaking message late on Tuesday night from the truck telling her she was dying because she could not breathe.
Her distraught dad Pham Van Thin told how they tried to stop her making the dangerous trip from their home in Nghen, one of Vietnam’s poorest towns.
He reportedly remortgaged the modest house to pay people-smugglers £30,000 for her passage to a better life in the UK.
Van Thin said: We tried to talk her out of it because it would be a very difficult journey. But she said: If I don’t go, the family would stay in a difficult situation because of the debt.
So she took a risk and we had to agree. We are in shock. I cannot explain our pain. We were all devastated
Van Thin and wife Nguyen Thi Phong who make only £312 a month between hoped Thi Tra My would send money home.
Van Thin said the family had been assured the trip she took would be safe and by aeroplane or car. He added: If I had known she would go by this route, I would not have let her go.
The Home Office yesterday would not comment on whether she had previously entered Britain. Essex Police have yet to discover who the eight women and 31 men found in the back of the refrigerated lorry at Grays, Essex, last Wednesday are.
They have launched the largest mass fatality victim iden tification process in the force’s history.
The lorry driver, Maurice Robinson, 25, of Laurelvale, Co Armagh, has been charged with manslaughter, people trafficking and immigration and money laundering offences.
He is due before Chelmsford magistrates on Monday. Three others held were released on bail on Sunday.