Lorry driver was part of a ‘global ring’, court told

Jus­tice: Ac­cused faces 39 counts of man­slaugh­ter

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY TESS DE LA MARE

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.

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