NEWS: Investigation underway following deaths near Burton

An investigation has been launched into the death of two suspected migrants after their bodies were found near Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire.

Police were called to Ferroli in Lichfield Road, Branston, just before 9.05am on Tuesday 17 November, following the discovery of two bodies within a wooden transit crate.

The area was immediately cordoned off and a forensic examination was carried out.

Both bodies were removed to the Royal Stoke Hospital for a forensic post mortem examination today, Wednesday 18 November.

The cause of death is yet to be established and further tests will be conducted. The bodies are both believed to be males under the age of 30 and work will continue to establish their identity.

The wooden transit crate was part of a consignment of commercial boilers which left northern Italy on Monday 5 October and entered the UK by ferry from Dunkirk to Dover on Thursday 8 October. It was delivered to the warehouse in Branston, Burton-upon-Trent, later the same day where it remained untouched until employees became suspicious due to its unpleasant smell and appearance. Upon investigation they discovered the bodies inside the crate and notified police immediately.

DCI Dave Giles, who is leading the investigation, said “It is apparent both men had been dead for some time. Based on the information available this time, the men are likely to be migrants who had secreted themselves in a wooden transit crate to enable their entry into the UK. We are almost certain they were helped to conceal themselves amongst the delivery load by a third party.

“In view of this we are treating the deaths as suspicious and will be carrying out a thorough investigation into the circumstances. Our priorities are to identify the bodies and repatriate them to their bereaved families and also to identify anyone who is involved in facilitating the illegal movement of people into the UK.

“It is likely this investigation will take some time and will require close partnership working with colleagues from the National Crime Agency, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement.

“This is clearly a tragic incident. Our thoughts are with the men, who must have been extremely uncomfortable in their final moments, and their as yet untraced families and friends, who will undoubtedly be very concerned having not heard from their loved ones for considerable time.

“We are treating the men with the utmost respect and dignity, and will continue to do so.

“Tackling organised crime and protecting vulnerable people are key priorities for Staffordshire Police.”