Essex Lorry Deaths: Wanted Northern Irishman arrested and charged with manslaughter

Essex Lorry Deaths: Wanted Northern Irishman arrested and charged with manslaughter

A NORTHERN IRISHMAN wanted in connection with the deaths of 39 migrants found in the back of a lorry in Essex has been arrested and charged with manslaughter.

Ronan Hughes, 40, was detained in Ireland on Monday following the execution of European arrest warrant, and will now appear at Dublin's High Court today, according to Essex Police.

Hughes, along with his brother Christopher, both from Co. Armagh, had been on the run from authorities in Britain and fled to Ireland in the aftermath of the tragedy back in October.

By crossing the border they tied up the investigation process with extradition difficulties between different nations, but yesterday the arrest warrant was finally approved.

Following the arrest, Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, head of Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "This investigation is one of the largest in Essex Police history and we are working tirelessly to piece together the events leading up to the 23 October 2019 for the sake of victims and their loved ones.

"We have worked closely with the National Crime Agency and Crown Prosecution Service as well as police and prosecutors in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Bulgaria, Germany and Vietnam."

Hughes has been charged with immigration offences along with the 39 counts of manslaughter.

It's alleged that he, along with a number of others including 25-year-old Mo Robinson, also from Amragh, conspired to smuggle illegal migrants into the UK in the back of a lorry via a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Emergency services discovered the dead bodies of the migrants, who were all Vietnamese nationals, at an industrial estate in Grays, Essex on October 23, 2019.

Among those found were 10 teenagers, including two 15-year-old boys.

Last week, Robinson, who was driving the lorry when the bodies were found, and has since been in police custody, pleaded guilty 39 counts of manslaughter at the Old Bailey.

He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property at the same court on 25 November.

Back in February, fellow Northern Irishman Eamonn Harrison was granted permission to appeal against his extradition to the UK under terms of a European arrest warrant issued by Essex Police.

A further hearing will be held in Dublin on May 7.