A court has sentenced the ringleaders of a people-smuggling group convicted for the 2019 deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry in England to decades in prison.
The victims had each paid more than 10,000 pounds ($A17,740) to be smuggled into the UK from Vietnam.
But they were found dead in the back of a lorry, apparently abandoned.
“The willingness of the victims to try to enter this country illegally provides no excuse for what happened to them,” Judge Nigel Sweeney said as he laid out the sentences and described how the victims must have slowly and painfully suffocated to death in the container, unable to escape or call for help.
Gheorghe Nica, 43, from Essex, and haulier boss Ronan Hughes, 41, of Armagh, were identified as the ringleaders.
Nica was sentenced to 27 years while Hughes recieved 20.
Two lorry drivers were also sentenced.
Maurice Robinson, 26, was sentenced to 13 years and four months of jail while Eamonn Harrison, 23, was sentenced to 18 years.
The judge told the men that they will serve at least two-thirds of their sentences in custody, as opposed to the more usual 50 per cent.
Nica and Harrison were found guilty of manslaughter last month.
Hughes and Robinson had previously admitted to manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
During the trial in London, the court heard the victims were discovered in the container after it was parked in an industrial estate in Essex.
It had been taken by road from Dunkirk in France to Zeebrugge in Belgium, from where it was put on a Britain-bound ferry.
The victims were aged between 15 and 44.
During the trial, officers said they recovered mobile phones from the victims that revealed they tried to raise the alarm and left goodbye messages for loved ones as they ran out of air, according to the Press Association.