Lorry driver was part of a ‘global ring’, court told
Justice: Accused faces 39 counts of manslaughter
A lorry driver accused of the manslaughter of 39 migrants was part of a “global ring” involved in smuggling large numbers of people into the UK, a court has heard.
Maurice Robinson, 25, was arrested after the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in the refrigerated trailer attached to his Scania cab in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, on October 23.
Robinson, known as Mo, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court via video link yesterday.
Essex Police initially believed the 39 were all Chinese nationals, but Vietnamese men and women are now feared to be among the dead and other nationalities may be involved.
All of the bodies have now been moved from the truck in Tilbury Docks to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, for postmortem examinations to be carried out.
Robinson, of Craigavon in Northern Ireland, is charged with 39 counts of manslaughter of persons unknown, conspiracy to traffic people between
December 1 2018 and October 24 2019 and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between the same dates.
At Robinson’s brief court appearance, prosecutor Ogheneruona Iguyovwe described the conspiracy charges as “a global ring” involving “the movement of a large number of illegal immigrants into the UK”.
Robinson was not asked to indicate a plea and will next appear at the Old Bailey on November 25 for a plea and trial preparation hearing.
Another man wanted in connection with the investigation was arrested at Dublin port on Saturday.
Police said the man, who is in his early 20s and from Northern Ireland, was held over an unrelated outstanding court order.
He is understood to be sought by Essex Police as part of their probe, and the force confirmed officers are in touch with Irish police.
Three other suspects have been released on bail.
A man and woman, both 38, from Warrington, and a 46-year-old man from Northern Ireland were questioned on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.