Crown Prosecution Service
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People smugglers ordered to pay over £280,000 from criminal profits in the Essex lorry deaths case

A convicted people smuggler, responsible for the manslaughter of 39 people who died in the back of a lorry in Essex, has today (24 September 2023) been ordered to pay a total of £65,157.65 to victims’ families through a Confiscation Order made by the court today.

Gheorghe Nica, 46, is the final defendant in this series of proceeds of crime confiscation hearings with total orders of £283,802.58, all to be paid by way of compensation to the families of the 39 victims.

Nica was convicted of the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese nationals aged between 15 and 44 and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment at the Old Bailey on 22 January 2021 and was part of an illegal people-smuggling operation, which resulted in those deaths on 22 October 2019.

After the investigation, in which eight people have been found guilty, it was found that significant sums of money were made from this exploitation and the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division has worked with investigators to pursue these ill-gotten gains to ensure that no one profits from this horrific tragedy.

Darren Fox from the CPS said: “Nica profited from smuggling people into the country, which ended in 39 people dying in the most horrific circumstances.

“The CPS worked with the police financial investigators to identify Nica’s criminal benefit from this tragedy and what assets he currently holds.

“The Confiscation Order set by the Judge reflects all the assets available to Nica. He also made a Compensation Order for that amount to be paid to the families of the victims. We will continue to ensure that money will be paid by defendants for the proceeds of these awful crimes.”

In the last five years, 2018 to 2023, over £480 million has been recovered from CPS obtained Confiscation Orders, ensuring that thousands of convicted criminals cannot profit from their offending. £105m of that amount has been returned to victims of crime, by way of compensation.

Notes to editors

  • Darren Fox is a specialist prosecutor for CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, which is part of the CPS Serious Economic Organised and International Directorate (SEOCID)
  • Gheorghe Nica (DOB: 14/01/1977) convicted of 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. Nica for 27 years imprisonment
  • Ronan Hughes (DOB: 01/09/1979) pleaded guilty to thirty-nine offences of manslaughter and one offence of assisting unlawful immigration for his part in facilitating the illegal immigration. The Judge determined his total criminal benefit and his available amount to pay a Confiscation Order as being £182,078 
  • Maurice Robinson (DOB: 09/09/1994) pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter assisting unlawful immigration as well as acquiring criminal property offences and imprisoned for 13 years and 4 months. The Judge determined his total criminal benefit to be £50,000 and his available amount to pay a Confiscation Order as being £21,262 of which all will be paid as compensation payments to the families of the Vietnamese victims
  • Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga (DOB: 22/05/1992) was sentenced to three years imprisonment.  The Judge determined his total criminal benefit to be £83,552 and his available amount to pay a Confiscation Order as being £3,000 of which all will be paid as compensation payments to the families of the Vietnamese victims
  • Valentin Calota (DOB: 22/11/1982) was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment. The Judge determined his total criminal benefit to be £1,128.72 and his available amount to pay a Confiscation Order as being £1,128.72 of which all will be paid as compensation payments to the families of the Vietnamese victims
  • Christopher Kennedy (DOB: 11/09/1996) was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. The Judge determined his total criminal benefit to be £67,058 and his available amount to pay a Confiscation Order as being £6,094.18 of which all will be paid as compensation payments to the families of the Vietnamese victims 
  • Eammon Harrison (DOB: 12/12/1996) was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. The Judge determined his total criminal benefit to be £11,900 and his available amount to pay a Confiscation Order as being £5,055.99 of which all will be paid as compensation payments to the families of the Vietnamese victims 
  • Where a defendant refuses to pay their Confiscation Order in a timely way, CPS Proceeds of Crime Division can invite the court to impose an additional default sentence on them of up to 14 years' imprisonment. The full debt continues to be in force until it is paid, and interest is charged against it at the civil judgement debt rate, currently 8%
  • Where they are found to have additional available assets in the future, the CPS may ask the court to revisit the order and make an additional Confiscation Order up to the value of their full criminal benefit
Channel website: https://www.cps.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://www.cps.gov.uk/cps/news/people-smugglers-ordered-pay-over-ps280000-criminal-profits-essex-lorry-deaths-case

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