Essex lorry deaths: Driver Maurice Robinson pleads guilty to plotting to assist illegal immigration

Maurice Robinson, 25, also faces manslaughter charges over deaths of eight females and 31 males

Eight arrested in Vietnam over migrant lorry deaths

The lorry driver accused over the deaths of 39 migrants found dead in a trailer in Essex has pleaded guilty to plotting to assist illegal immigration.

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 inside a refrigerated trailer.

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

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

Mr Robinson appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Belmarsh prison for a plea hearing on Monday.

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 money – on the same dates.

The defendant, from Craigavon, Northern Ireland, was not asked to enter pleas to other charges, including 39 counts of manslaughter.

He is 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.

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

Another suspect is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday charged with human trafficking offences.

Irish national Christopher Kennedy, 23, was arrested in Buckinghamshire on Friday.

It came after it emerged a teenager who was among the 39 people found dead had gone missing from an asylum centre in the Netherlands.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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