Trailer victims’ families in UK and Vietnam speak of the grief of their losses

Emily Pennink, PA Old Bailey Correspondent
·3-min read

The families of the 39 men, woman and children who suffocated en route to Britain have spoken of their grief, loss and hardship.

Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay read out statements from the parents, wives, husbands and children of the victims as those responsible for the tragedy prepared to be sentenced at the Old Bailey

The mother of one of the youngest victims, Dinh Dinh Binh, 15, spoke of the emotional and financial toll.

Bui Thi Nguyet said: “Although we have received his cremated ashes and organised his funeral, we have not been able to get back to our normal life yet.

“Our economic conditions and work are negatively affected. We have had to sell some properties of the family to afford our life.”

Fifteen-year-old Nguyen Huy Hung’s father Nguyen  Huy Tung, who lives in the UK, learned about his death on social media.

He said: “We were very shocked, trembled, we lost track and awareness of our surroundings. My wife had fainted many times whenever our son’s name was mentioned.

“We did not believe it was the truth until we saw his body by our own eyes at the seeing in the hospital.”

Tran Hai Loc and his wife Nguyen Thi Van, both 35, were found huddled together in death.

The couple left behind two children, aged six and four, and a family struggling to repay a loan to fund their trip.

The children’s grandfather Tran Dinh Thanh said: “At the moment their children are very small – this incident will affect their future.

“Everyday, when they come home from school they always look at the photos of their parents on the altar. The decease of both parents is a big loss to them.”

Thirty-five-year-old Nguyen Huy Phong’s wife Nguyen Thi Lam said: “He is the breadwinner in the family, now it will be very hard for me to earn money and raise our child by myself.

“I am a farmer, just growing rice and do some animal husbandry to feed our child. I have no other sources of income, just my life is very difficult.”

Phan Thi Thanh, 41, had sold the family home and left her son with his godmother before setting off on the ill-fated journey.

Her son said: “I heard about the incident from mass media so I called dad in the UK in order to confirm if mum was a victim. I was very shocked, very sad and I was crying a lot.”

The boy is now being looked after by his father in the UK.

He said: “I feel very heartbroken with mum not around, but I have dad beside me.”

Dang Huu Tuyen, 22, had set out to be reunited with his sister Dang Thi Nga in the UK.

She spoke of how she looked for him after their parents in Vietnam called to say they had lost touch.

She said: “My parents and I could sense something negative happening within the family.

“My parents went everywhere and did everything they could to search for news about my brother.”

After meeting police, she said: “Inside me, my sixth sense told me that there was 99.9% likelihood that my brother was among the 39 unfortunate victims.

“When my DNA sample was taken I felt hopeless – as if the whole entire world had collapsed in front of me.”

Describing the moment her brother’s death was confirmed, she said: “I felt the ultimate pain, so much so that I felt like I could not breathe.

“I felt extremely lonely because I had no other families in this country. Only until later on, did I come to know that my brother wanted to come so we, as siblings, could reunite and support one another.”