THE man who sent Chinese cockle pickers to their deaths in Morecambe Bay in 2004 will not be prosecuted after the skull of another victim was discovered.

An inquest into the death of 37-year-old Liu Qin Ying heard that gangmaster Lin Liang Ren will not be prosecuted for a further count of manslaughter after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) deemed it would cost too much money to fund the trial and that the sentence was unlikely to be altered.

The cocklers died after arriving at the sands in the early evening of February 5, 2004.

They became stranded while collecting cockles and despite the best efforts of rescuers, 23 people are believed to have died.

Ren is currently serving a 14 year sentence for the manslaughter of 21 of the 23 cocklers, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and immigration offences.

After his sentence he will be deported to China.

Detective Superintendent Steve Brunskill, who investigated the case, told the hearing at Preston Coroners Court that he and other detectives travelled to China to gather evidence that would help in identifying the skull found on the sands in Morcambe earlier this year.

“We also knew that the family of Liu Qin Ying had spoken to her the day before the tragedy,” he said.

“We also knew from the survivors that she and her husband were on the beach at the time of the tragedy, so we are satisfied that with the DNA match, the skull did belong to Mrs Ying.

“It is difficult to tell sometimes, as a body in the sea for that amount of time will decompose, but teeth are the best source of DNA.”

At an earlier inquest in October, the coroner deemed that the skull found on the beach in July was that of Mrs Ying.

DNA taken from a tooth matched the profile taken by Lancashire Police from her parents.

Alan Sledmore, of Hest Bank, was leading a group of 70 walkers when he found the skull.

The victim’s husband, Yu Hua Xu, 37, also died in the tragedy, leaving a 13-year-old orphan son in China meaning just one of the pickers, Dong Xin Wu, is unaccounted for.

The hearing also heard from Dr Alison Armour, who submitted a report as to the cause of death.

“The cause of death is most likely to have been through drowning, but given that there is only a part of the skull remaining, I have to record the cause of death as unascertained,” she said.

Summing up, the deputy coroner for North Lancashire, Simon Jones, said: “From the evidence we have heard I must find that Liu Qin Ying was unlawfully killed and that the cause of death was unascertained and it is inconceivable that Lin Liang Ren would not have been found guilty of her manslaughter had it made trial.”

DS Brunskill added: “It does give her family some closure as her son, who is now 19, can gain funding for university as a death certificate can now be issued.

“The family were very dignified in their grief, though it was visible to all how much pain this has caused them.

“We hope to repatriate Mrs Ying’s remains to her family very soon.”