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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Cocklers jury visits tragedy site
The jury, judge and legal teams at Morecambe Bay
The jury travelled around the bay by hovercraft
The jury in the trial of five people charged over the deaths of 21 Chinese cockle pickers has visited Morecambe Bay where the deaths occurred in 2004.

They were taken on a hovercraft trip around the Hest Bank and Red Bank areas of the Lancashire bay on Wednesday.

The jury, barristers and judge, from Preston Crown Court, saw where the cocklers were cut off by an incoming tide on 5 February last year.

Lin Liang Ren, from Liverpool, denies a total of 21 counts of manslaughter.

The 29-year-old, the cocklers' alleged gangmaster, also denies perverting the course of justice and an immigration charge.

Shrine at Morecambe Bay

The jury was shown a signpost that warns about "quicksand and fast rising tides". The sign was in place on the night of the tragedy.

Other laminated signs have been erected since, jurors were told.

They were also taken to an area of raised ground called Priest Skear, where the only successful rescue took place during the disaster.

On Tuesday, the court was shown a video from a rescue helicopter with cockler Li Hua, stuck on Priest Skear after he had desperately tried to save a drowning friend.

He was eventually rescued by a lifeboat after the helicopter shone a searchlight on him, but his friend drowned.

Rising tides

The jurors were also shown the Keer channel, one of two channels in that part of the bay that regularly change position and quickly fill up with water when the tide comes in.

The hovercraft then took the jury about two miles out, to see exactly where the cocklers were working when they were trapped by rising tides.

Four other people deny charges in connection with the deaths.

Zhao Xiao Qing, 20, from Liverpool, denies perverting the course of justice and facilitating illegal immigration.

Lin Mu Yong, 31, from Liverpool, a cousin of Lin Liang Ren, denies an immigration offence.

Bodies missing

Father and son David Anthony Eden snr, 62, from Irby, Merseyside, and David Anthony Eden jnr, 34, from Prenton, Merseyside, also deny immigration charges.

A total of 21 bodies, men and women, aged between 18 and 45, were recovered from the water surrounding Warton Sands. A further two bodies have never been found.

The prosecution alleges the workers were illegal immigrants who died because of "negligence" by those for whom they worked.

The trial, which is expected to last between four and six months, is due to continue on Thursday.

See the jury travelling across Morecambe Bay

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