A man dubbed "a Vietnamese ringleader" by judges has been jailed fpr 15 years for his role in the deaths of 39 people found in a lorry.

The Belgian court has convicted 18 people who were involved from Belgium in the 2019 deaths of 39 people from Vietnam whose bodies were found in the back of a container lorry in Grays.

The Bruges correctional court found what it called a Vietnamese ringleader in Belgium guilty and imposed a 15-year jail term. Others were given one- to 10-year sentences while five were found not guilty.

It was still unclear if they would appeal against the sentence.

Over a year ago, a British court had already found a Romanian mechanic and Northern Irish lorry driver guilty of the deaths of the Vietnamese nationals, who were discovered dead in the lorry on the Grays industrial estate.

The victims, between the ages of 15 and 44, were found on October 23 2019, inside a refrigerated container that had arrived by ferry from Belgium.

The migrants came from impoverished villages and had paid people-smugglers thousands of dollars to take them on risky journeys to what they hoped would be better lives abroad.