Lorry driver pleads guilty to plotting to assist illegal immigration over deaths of 39 migrants in Essex

A lorry driver from Northern Ireland has pleaded guilty to plotting to assist illegal immigration over the deaths of 39 migrants in Essex.

Maurice Robinson, 25, who was allegedly part of a global smuggling ring, is charged with the manslaughter of a group of men, women and children found dead in a refrigerated trailer.

Robinson was not asked to enter pleas to other charges, including 39 counts of manslaughter.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

The bodies of eight females and 31 males were discovered in the trailer attached to his Scania cab in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, early on 23 October.

The victims were later identified as being from various provinces of Vietnam, with the youngest being two boys aged 15.

An artist's sketch of Maurice Robinson during an earlier court appearance (PA)
An artist's sketch of Maurice Robinson during an earlier court appearance (PA)

Robinson, who is known as Mo, faces 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between 1 December, 2018, and 24 October, 2019.

He is also charged with acquiring criminal property and one count of concealing criminal property.

The defendant, of Laurel Drive in Craigavon, Co Armagh, appeared via video link from custody in Belmarsh prison before Mr Justice Edis at the Old Bailey.

Wearing a light blue sweater and tan trousers, Robinson spoke to confirm his identity and British nationality.

During the hearing before Mr Justice Edis, he admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between 1 May, 2018 and 24 October, 2019.

The charge states that he plotted with others to do "an act or series of acts which facilitated the commission of a breach of immigration law by various persons".

He also admitted acquiring criminal property – namely cash – on the same dates.

The bodies of 39 people were found in a lorry at an industrial estate in Essex (PA)
The bodies of 39 people were found in a lorry at an industrial estate in Essex (PA)

Robinson is also charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking offences between 1 May, 2018, and 24 October, 2019.

The details of that charge state that he "arranged or facilitated the travel of other persons into the UK with a view to their being exploited".

He is also charged with transferring criminal property.

Robinson was remanded into custody until a further hearing on 13 December.

Meanwhile, another man is due in court later over the deaths.

Christopher Kennedy, 23, from Darkley, Co Armagh, is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday accused of human trafficking offences.

He was arrested in the early hours of Friday on the M40.

Kennedy is charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of people with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law.

What to Read Next

Back