A DETECTIVE who helped secure justice for families of the 39 victims of the Grays lorry tragedy has been honoured by the Queen.

Det Insp Michelle Stoten was handed a Queen’s Police Medal by Prince Charles at Windsor Castle.

Michelle was one of six Essex Police officers and members of police staff honoured with either the QPM or the British Empire Medal.

She was one of three officers recognised for their work during the biggest investigation Essex Police has undertaken – the deaths of the 39 Vietnamese nationals who suffocated in an articulated lorry trailer back in 2019.

Four men were jailed for a total of 78 years and four months for offences ranging from manslaughter to people smuggling and conspiring to bring people into the country unlawfully.

After collecting her medal, Michelle said: “I feel very honoured and privileged to have been recognised for the work done on the investigation.

“The Investiture at Windsor Castle was a fantastic experience and once in a lifetime opportunity to be presented this award by the Prince of Wales.”

Michelle acted as family liaison co-ordinator throughout the investigation and worked with the Vietnamese Government and police to communicate with the families of the victims.

She also oversaw a visit to Vietnam in February 2020 with officers who met with the families face-to-face for the first time.

Michelle’s QPM citation read: “She is a dedicated detective and a role-model to those within the investigative field.

“Her support to the families throughout this challenging time – where they were grieving with international media intrusion – will never be forgotten.”