THE last remains of the 39 Vietnamese people who died while being smuggled in a lorry into the country at Grays have been repatriated.

The bodies of the victims, aged between 15 and 44, were found at Waterglade Industrial Park, Grays, on October 23.

The 31 men and eight women are believed to have paid human traffickers for their transit into England.

Several suspects have been arrested in the UK and Vietnam.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, lead for the investigation in to the deaths, said: “On behalf of everyone at Essex Police I would like to extend our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims as they are reunited with their loved ones following their tragic deaths in October. Our thoughts are with them.

“While the process to repatriate the victims back to Vietnam from the UK has concluded, I continue to have detectives and police staff working tirelessly on what is a large and complex investigation

“On 23 October, 39 men, women and children died needlessly as a result of this fateful journey and we remain committed to ensuring that we do all we can to bring those involved to justice.”

Caroline Beasley-Murray, Senior Coroner for Essex, added: “I am grateful to Essex Police, the forensic pathologists, Broomfield mortuary staff along with all the others who ensured a speedy conclusion to the identification of the victims.

"I am glad that all the victims of this appalling tragedy have now been repatriated and our thoughts remain with the bereaved families at this dreadful time for them.

"It is important that not just the living but also the dead are treated with respect."

On Monday, November 25, a lorry driver who was allegedly the driver of the vehicle in which the 39 bodies were found pleaded guilty to plotting with others to assist illegal immigration and acquiring criminal property.

Northern Irish truck driver Maurice Robinson, accused of being part of an international people-smuggling ring, was not asked to enter pleas to 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.

Police say he drove the cab of the vehicle to the port of Purfleet, where it picked up the container, which had arrived by ferry from the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Also on Monday, British police said they had arrested a 36-year-old man from Purfleet on suspicion of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Two other men have been arrested in Britain and Ireland in connection with the case.