Caolan Gormley, a 26-year-old trucking company boss from Armagh, Northern Ireland, was sentenced to seven years in prison for his involvement in a human trafficking ring. This case tragically culminated in the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in 2019. Gormley, who claimed to believe he was smuggling alcohol, was the last of 11 individuals convicted in the scheme at London’s Central Criminal Court.
Gormley was found guilty of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. Judge Richard Marks rebuked Gormley for succumbing to “temptation and greed” in what became a fatal smuggling operation. Despite Gormley’s assertion of being paid up to 3,500 pounds per load, migrants paid as much as 22,500 pounds each for the dangerous journey.
Prosecutors highlighted Gormley’s involvement in three migrant shipments, including one where individuals were seen fleeing a truck in England and another intercepted by French authorities. Tragically, some migrants from these shipments were later found dead in a shipping container from Belgium, where temperatures soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to suffocation.
The victims, ranging from 15 to 44 years old, included various professions such as a bricklayer, manicure technician, and a college graduate. Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe expressed the profound loss and betrayal experienced by the victims’ families.
Other individuals involved in the smuggling operation received varied sentences, ranging from 10 months to 27 years. The truck driver was sentenced to 13 years, while key figures Ronan Hughes and Gheorghe Nica received 20 and 27 years, respectively. In Belgium, 18 more were convicted, including the Vietnamese ringleader who received a 15-year sentence.
The case has left an indelible mark of loss and grief, with the family of one victim, 22-year-old Dang Huu Tuyen, expressing a sentiment that resonates with all affected families: “Our hearts are broken.”