A suffocating Vietnamese migrant locked inside a refridgerated lorry trailer in Essex recorded a harrowing final message to tell his family he was 'sorry' before he died, a court heard today.
The chilling voice message was sent by Nguyen Tho Tuan, 25, for his wife, children and mother from inside the trailer, which was later found near Grays.
His final words to his family were: 'I am sorry. I cannot take care of you. I cannot breathe. Have a good life', before the phone signal cut out.
Eamonn Harrison, 23, and Gheorghe Nica, 43, are accused of killing the men, women and children found dead in the trailer on October 23 last year.
Valentin Calota, 37, and Christopher Kennedy, 24, are also alleged to have assisted in the global smuggling ring, driving 'desperate' economic migrants into the UK.
The victims - including eight women and ten teenagers, the youngest of whom were two boys aged 15 - had paid up to £10,000 each for the journey, the court was told.
Prosecutors at the Old Bailey in London claim Irish truck driver Harrison drove the trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before it sailed to Purfleet in Essex and was picked up by trucker Maurice Robinson, 26, from County Armagh.
Robinson and his haulier boss Ronan Hughes, 40, have admitted the 39 counts of manslaughter which Harrison and British-Romanian alleged ringleader Nica deny.
Police and forensic officers at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, on October 23, 2019 after 39 bodies of Vietnamese migrants were found inside the lorry on the estate
Lorry driver Maurice Robinson (pictured), 26, has already admitted 39 counts of manslaughter
In court today, jurors heard the recording made by Nguyen Tho Tuan at 7.37pm said: 'It's Tuan. I am sorry. I cannot take care of you. I am sorry. I am sorry. I cannot breathe. I want to come back to my family. Have a good life.'
Prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones said that Mr Tuan's message was addressed to his wife, children and mother.
Lorry driver Eamonn Harrison, 23, of County Down, is charged with manslaughter
Another male victim made a recording saying: 'I can't breathe. I'm sorry. I have to go now,' adding after a long pause: 'It's all my fault.'
Moments later, another voice could be heard saying: 'He's dead,' the prosecutor said.
The temperature had leapt to 35C (95F) by 6.25pm, and the court was shown photographs taken by 26-year-old Pham Thi Tra My after the heat began to reach the 'unbearable' highs.
By 6.59pm, another victim had attempted to call emergency services, the court heard.
The prosecutor said that the air in the trailer would have become 'toxic' after about nine hours of confinement, and migrants would have started dying shortly after - at around 10pm to 10.30pm.
Cellsite data from the victims' phones placed them in various locations around Brussels and Paris the day before they died, suggesting they travelled northbound to the Belgian border.
Pham Tra My (left and right) 26, was among the 39 people who died in the lorry in Grays, Essex
Nguyen Huy Hung (left), 15, was the youngest, while Nguyen Dinh Lurong (right), 20, also died
Harrison then arranged to meet the migrants at Chemin Noord Straete, France, where they arrived in taxis and hid in an 'agricultural shed' until he collected them, jurors heard.
Passerby Laetitia Mockelyn witnessed the rendezvous, seeing the Vietnamese nationals 'run into' their temporary shelter before jumping into the back of a lorry shortly after, it was said.
'There was an eye-witness to these events. Laetitia Mockelyn saw something of what happened in Chemin Noord Straete. She thought this was at about 10.35am,' Mr Emlyn Jones said.
'She saw a vehicle like a van with a taxi sign. The occupants of the taxi were dropped off and ran into an agricultural shed.
'She then saw the lorry arrive, and the same people ran out of the shed and climbed into the back of the lorry, which then drove away again.
'She refers to the people she saw as 'migrants,' because no doubt what was going on was obvious.'
Mr Emlyn Jones added: 'At 8.02pm a video file was recorded using a mobile phone. The screen is in darkness.
'A male voice says 'I can't breathe.' He then stated his own name and address, and went on: 'I can't breathe. I'm sorry. I have to go now'.
'There is at least one other voice audible in the background. In a second video file on the same handset, recorded a minute later, the same voice repeats that he is sorry, and after a long pause adds 'It's all my fault.'.
Gheorghe Nica (left) and Eamonn Harrison (right), two of four men on trial at the Old Bailey in London, are pictured in a court sketch drawn on Wednesday by artist Elizabeth Cook
A court artist's sketch drawn on Wednesday of Christopher Kennedy (left) and Valentin Calota (right), the other two men on trial at the Old Bailey in London
'After that, another voice can be heard: 'He's dead.' The temperature was still rising and by 9.02pm it had reached 38C (100F).
Eamonn Harrison, 23sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more Denies 39 counts of manslaughter Denies conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
Gheorghe Nica, 43Denies 39 counts of manslaughter Admits conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
Valentin Calota, 37Denies conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
Christopher Kennedy, 24Denies conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
Maurice Robinson, 26Admits 39 counts of manslaughter Admits conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
Ronan Hughes, 41Admits 39 counts of manslaughter Admits conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
'Laura Martin, a forensic scientist and expert in Occupational Hygiene and Health and Safety has calculated the length of time 39 adults could spend in the confined and airtight trailer before the atmosphere became toxic.
'She estimates that after eight-and-a-half to nine hours after the trailer was sealed shut for the final time, the toxic threshold would have been