Driver admits manslaughter charge over Essex lorry deaths

8 April 2020, 15:24 | Updated: 8 April 2020, 15:59

39 people were found dead in the lorry in Essex
39 people were found dead in the lorry in Essex. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

A lorry driver has admitted the manslaughter of 39 people who were found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Essex.

Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon in Northern Ireland, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey today.

The bodies of the Vietnamese nationals were discovered by emergency services at an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, shortly after the lorry arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium in the early hours of October 23 last year.

Among the men, women and children were 10 teenagers, two of them 15-year-old boys. In March, it was revealed they all died from asphyxia and hyperthermia.

Five men charged following an investigation by Essex Police appeared for a virtual hearing at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Sweeney.

Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon in Northern Ireland, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the truck driver also admitted 39 counts of manslaughter on or before October 24 last year.

He denied a further charge of transferring criminal property.

At the same Old Bailey hearing, co-defendant Gheorghe Nica denied 39 counts of manslaughter.

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