Essex lorry deaths: Driver Mo Robinson part of a ‘global ring’ of people-smugglers, court told

Twenty-five-year-old is due to appear next at the Old Bailey in November

Jon Sharman
Tuesday 29 October 2019 09:18 GMT
Fourth person arrested in connection with 39 bodies found in Essex container

The lorry driver accused of trafficking and killing 39 people found in a lorry container in Essex was part of a “global ring” of smugglers, a court has heard.

Maurice Robinson was engaged in ”the movement of a large number of illegal immigrants into the UK”, according to prosecutors.

Mr Robinson appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with manslaughter, money laundering, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and conspiracy to traffic people.

It followed the discovery last week of more than three dozen bodies in a Grays industrial estate. After first saying all the deceased were Chinese, Essex Police conceded that some may be Vietnamese.

The defendant was arrested soon 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 on 23 October.

Twenty-five-year-old Robinson, from Craigavon in Northern Ireland, did not enter a plea and is due to appear at the Old Bailey on 25 November. He was remanded in custody.

During the brief hearing, prosecutor Ogheneruona Iguyovwe described the conspiracy charges as “a global ring” involving “the movement of a large number of illegal immigrants into the UK”.

Three other people have been arrested in connection with the probe.

The Vietnamese ambassador to the UK, Tran Ngoc An, spoke to home secretary Priti Patel on Friday night before meeting investigators from the National Crime Agency and Essex Police. He later visited the civic centre in Grays to pay tribute to the victims.

Boris Johnson has also visited Thurrock Council Offices in Essex to sign a book of condolence.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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