Dying trafficking victim sent her mother one last message

The final text message sent by a woman who is thought to have perished with 38 others in a refrigerated truck in Essex was to tell her mother she loved her.

Dying trafficking victim sent her mother one last message

The final text message sent by a woman who is thought to have perished with 38 others in a refrigerated truck in Essex was to tell her mother she loved her.

Vietnamese national Pham Tra My, 26, appears to have sent the distressing message to her mother with her dying breath.

“I am really, really sorry, Mum, my trip to a foreign land has failed,” she wrote.

I am dying, I can’t breathe. I love you very much Mum. I am sorry, Mother.

To date, four Irish people, two from the North and two from the Republic, have been arrested in connection with the tragedy.

A 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland was arrested at Stansted Airport yesterday on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and also on suspicion of manslaughter.

An Irish couple has also been arrested in the UK on suspicion of 39 counts of manslaughter and people-trafficking in relation to the case.

Named locally as Joanna and Thomas Maher, they are both aged 38 and live in Warrington, Cheshire, England.

They claimed on Thursday that they had sold the Bulgarian-registered Scania lorry cab where the 39 people died to a company in Ireland.

Ms Maher, who is reportedly the last known owner of the vehicle, told MailOnline: “We did own it, but sold it 13 months ago.”

Officers carried evidence bags inside the Irish couple’s four-bedroom property, which had two grey Range Rovers with personalised number plates and a white Chevrolet sports car parked on the drive.

Locals said Mr Maher is the owner of a haulage firm and his wife works as a hairdresser.

Neither the gardaí, the PSNI, nor the Essex police would comment on where in Ireland the couple are originally from.

Pham’s family told the BBC that they had paid £30,000 for her to be smuggled to Britain, which has now been repaid.

They said they have not been able to contact her since she sent text messages saying she was suffocating on Tuesday night — around two hours before the refrigerated trailer arrived in the port of Purfleet.

Her brother told the broadcaster: “My sister went missing on October 23 on the way from Vietnam to the UK and we couldn’t contact her. We are concerned she may be in that trailer.

The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex (Aaron Chown/PA)
The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex (Aaron Chown/PA)

“We are asking the British police to help investigate so that my sister can be returned to the family.”

GPS data shows that the truck travelled between Belgium and France in the days before its fatal trip to Essex.

Pham is believed to have been travelling to the UK via France.

Her brother reportedly wrote on an online forum that she had flown to France and on to the UK, but was allegedly arrested in the UK and sent back to France.

A spokesman from the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK confirmed that Essex Police had been in contact.

The driver of the truck, named locally as 25-year-old Mo Robinson, from Northern Ireland, remains in custody after he was held on suspicion of murder.

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were discovered in the refrigerated trailer in Grays, Essex, in the early hours of Wednesday.

Police have not confirmed whether the driver raised the alarm after finding the bodies, while his supporters have set up petitions online calling for his release.

It is not yet known when the victims entered the sealed refrigerated trailer, where temperatures can be as low as -25C.

Autopsies on the victims were due to begin at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford yesterday.

Human rights activist Hoa Nghiem, who first shared Pham Tra My’s tragic text message on Twitter, said other Vietnamese nationals may also have died in the refrigerated container.

She said that trafficking is prolific in the province of Hà Tĩnh, where Pham Tra My is from, and that many Vietnamese immigrants first travel to China to get a Chinese passport before making the journey to Europe.

She said she knew of six other Vietnamese families who were also concerned that their missing relatives were among the 39 people found dead in the truck.

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