Fourth person arrested after 39 people found dead in container

25 October 2019, 20:06 | Updated: 26 October 2019, 10:32

The bodies of 39 people found inside a lorry in Essex are transported under police escort by private ambulance from the Port of Tilbury to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.
The bodies of 39 people found inside a lorry in Essex are transported under police escort by private ambulance from the Port of Tilbury to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford. Picture: PA
Sylvia De Luca

By Sylvia De Luca

A 48-year-old man was detained on Friday at Stansted Airport on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter.

Police investigating the deaths of 39 people found in a lorry container in Essex have arrested a fourth person at Stansted Airport.

The 48-year-old, from Northern Ireland, was held after the bodies of eight women and 31 men were discovered in a refrigerated trailer in Grays in the early hours of Wednesday, Essex Police said.

He was taken into custody on Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and on suspicion of manslaughter.

Earlier, police said they had arrested a 38-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman from Warrington, Cheshire, on the same counts.

The driver of the Scania truck, named locally as 25-year-old Mo Robinson, from Northern Ireland, also remains in custody after he was held on suspicion of murder on Wednesday.

Essex Police initially believed all of the dead were Chinese nationals, but the force said at a press conference "this is now a developing picture".

Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said she would give no more details about the nationalities of the victims until formal identification had taken place.

Police leave the home of a couple, both 38, with an evidence box at Wiltshire close in Warrington, Cheshire, after they were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people
Police leave the home of a couple, both 38, with an evidence box at Wiltshire close in Warrington, Cheshire, after they were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. Picture: PA
Police outside the house of a couple in Warrington
Police outside the house of a couple in Warrington. Picture: PA
People take part in a vigil outside Belfast City Hall for the 39 people found dead inside a lorry in Essex
People take part in a vigil outside Belfast City Hall for the 39 people found dead inside a lorry in Essex. Picture: PA

Essex Police has urged anyone fearing their loved ones may have been in the lorry to get in touch.

"I can't begin to comprehend what some of you must be going through right now. You have my assurance that Essex Police will be working tirelessly to understand the whole picture to this absolute tragedy," said Det Ch Con Mills.

Equally she urged anyone living illegally in the UK who may have information to come forward, without fear of criminal action being taken against them.

Officers say they have been working around the clock on the investigation and have issued a plea to journalists and people on social media not to speculate about the identities of those involved or the circumstances surrounding this investigation.

Post-mortem examinations are due to begin as the bodies are moved by private ambulance with a police escort from the port of Tilbury to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Meanwhile, vigils have been held to pay respect to the victims and flowers have been laid at the site in Grays, where the bodies were found.

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