Two ringleaders of a group of people smugglers responsible for the deaths of 39 migrants have been jailed for 27 and 20 years respectively. Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Basildon, Essex and Ronan Hughes, 41, of Armagh, were sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday after Vietnamese men, women and children suffered an "excruciating" death in an airtight trailer. The victims had hoped for a better life in Britain when they agreed to pay up to £13,000 a head for a "VIP" smuggling service. On October 22 2019, they were crammed into a lorry container to be shipped from Zeebrugge to Purfleet in Essex in pitch black and sweltering conditions. The Old Bailey heard how they desperately tried to raise the alarm as they ran out of air before reaching British shores. The migrants, two aged just 15, were found dead by lorry driver Maurice Robinson who collected the trailer from the docks early the next morning. Robinson, 26, of Craigavon, and his boss Ronan Hughes, 41, of Armagh, had admitted plotting to people smuggle and 39 counts of manslaughter.