Second man charged with manslaughter over Essex lorry deaths

1 November 2019, 13:05 | Updated: 1 November 2019, 14:21

A second man has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the Essex lorry deaths
A second man has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the Essex lorry deaths. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A second man has been charged with manslaughter and is facing extradition from Ireland in connection with the Essex lorry deaths.

Eamon Harrison, 22, from Northern Ireland, has been charged with multiple counts of manslaughter in relation to the discovery of 39 bodies in a lorry container at an industrial estate in Essex last week.

He appeared in court in Dublin to face 41 charges, including 39 manslaughter charges, conspiracy to commit a human trafficking and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

He has been remanded to Cloverhill Prison in Dublin until November 11.

Essex police have confirmed the extradition process has started.

The driver of the lorry, 25-year-old Maurice Robinson, has also been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter.

In addition, two people have been arrested in Vietnam's Ha Tinh province after launching an investigation into suspected human trafficking.

The lorry containing the bodies was found on an industrial estate in Essex
The lorry containing the bodies was found on an industrial estate in Essex. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, it is understood wanted suspect Ronan Hughes, 40, has twice spoken to police by telephone.

Detectives have urged him and his brother Christopher, 34, who are both from Armagh in Northern Ireland, to hand themselves in.

The pair are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking after the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailer attached to a lorry in an industrial park in Grays in the early hours of Wednesday October 23.

Ronan Hughes is understood to have identified himself to a custody officer after calling Essex Police shortly after lorry driver Mo Robinson, 25, was arrested following the discovery.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective later called Hughes and had a conversation with him, it is understood.

Maurice Robsinon has been charged with manslaughter
Maurice Robsinon has been charged with manslaughter. Picture: Facebook

Essex Police Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten told reporters at a press conference in Northern Ireland on Friday: "Today I want to make a direct appeal - Ronan and Christopher, hand yourselves in to the PSNI.

"We need you both to come forward and assist this investigation.

"Although we have already spoken to Ronan Hughes recently by telephone, we need to have a conversation with him and his brother in person.

"Talking to Ronan and Christopher is crucial to our investigation and the sooner we can make this happen the sooner we can progress and continue with our investigation."

The detective said a lorry believed to be connected to the brothers was stopped and seized by the PSNI on Thursday but no further arrests were made.

The Hughes brothers are wanted by Essex police
The Hughes brothers are wanted by Essex police. Picture: Essex POlice

Detective Chief Inspector Martine Pasmore has said that the exact nationalities and identities of those found inside are not yet known, but said they are getting a large amount of "community engagement" from Vietnamese people "both at home and abroad".

Police had previously said they believed the victims were Chinese.

DCI Pasmore added that he has met with the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK, who paid tribute to the victims.

Three other people arrested in connection with the incident - two men aged 38 and 46 and a 38-year-old woman - have been released on bail.

The discovery has sparked a huge international investigation to try to identify the victims.

Essex Police initially believed the 39 were all Chinese nationals but it is now thought Vietnamese men and women are among the dead.

It is not yet known when the victims entered the trailer, where temperatures can be as low as -25C if the fridge is activated, or the exact route it travelled before crossing from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet.

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