Published On: Sat, Oct 26th, 2019

Essex lorry deaths: Maurice Robinson charged with 39 counts of manslaughter | UK | News

The 25-year-old driver of the lorry is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday. Mr Robinson was arrested shortly after the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in the refrigerated trailer in an industrial park in Grays in the early hours of Wednesday. Essex Police statement said: “The Crown Prosecution service has authorised Essex Police to charge a man in connection with the investigating the deaths of 39 people whose bodies were found in Grays on Wednesday.

maurice robinson essex lorry

Essex lorry deaths: Maurice Robinson has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter (Image: FACEBOOK / PA)

maurice robinson

Essex lorry deaths: Maurice Robinson is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday (Image: FACEBOOK)

“Maurice Robinson, 25, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, Northern Ireland was arrested shortly after the discovery was made at the Waterglade Retail Park.

“He is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday 28 October charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

“Three other people have been arrested in connection with this investigation.

“A 38 year-old man and a 38 year-old woman from Warrington and a 48 year-old man from Northern Ireland, who were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter remain in custody.”

The charges against Mr Robinson come after a man was arrested at Dublin port earlier today.

Irish police said the man, in his early 20s and from Northern Ireland, was held over an unrelated outstanding court order and was due to appear in court this afternoon.

essex lorry deaths

Essex lorry deaths: The bodies of 39 people were discovered in the trailer on Wednesday (Image: PA)

Three other people arrested in connection with the death remain in custody. 

A 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland was detained at Stansted Airport on Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter.

Police had also earlier arrested a 38-year-old man and woman from Warrington on suspicion of 39 counts of manslaughter and people trafficking.

In an update released this evening, Essex Police said all of the 39 bodies have now been moved from Tilbury Docks to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

They said each victim “appears to have a bag of some description, clothes, and other belongings”.

The police added: “So far we have over 500 exhibits, including mobile phones which have to be downloaded and the interrogation of mobile phones will be important for identifying the victims but also assisting the wider investigation – this needs to be done in forensic way so it will pass the evidential process for court later.

“As in any instance where a mass fatality has unfolded we cannot predict how long this process will take.

essex lorry deaths

Essex lorry deaths: Police are continuing with their investigations (Image: REUTERS)

Senior Identification Manager Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore said: “We are working hard to understand how the 39 victims of this tragic incident have died and to identify all those involved.

“We remain open minded as to nationalities of those who have died. We are asking anyone who may have information that may assist us in identification to come forward to us.

“If you come to us, we will do all we can to put our arm around you and take you through this process, and establish as quickly as possible whether or not we have your loved involved in this tragic incident, and try and reunite you.

“It may well be people are here illegally and they want to come forward with information or concerns, particularly if they believe their loved one is involved. We want to identify their loved ones and reunite but they are frightened.

“We understand some people may be frightened but I hope people will put trust in me and make that leap of faith – Essex Police will not look to take any action against you.”

essex lorry deaths

Essex lorry deaths: The nationalities of the victims is not yet known (Image: PA)

The latest developments comes after the Vietnamese ambassador to the UK met with detectives as they work to identify the victims.

Essex Police initially believed they were Chinese nationals.

Earlier today, Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore told reporters the nationality of the victims is not yet known.

But he said is now on the Vietnamese community – although “there may be other nationalities involved”.

DCI Pasmore added he had met with Vietnamese ambassador Tran Ngoc An, who had visited the civic centre in Grays to pay tribute to the victims.

He said there were “very, very few” identity documents recovered and that police will share fingerprints with Vietnamese authorities in a bid to identify the bodies.

essex lorry deaths

Essex lorry deaths: DCI Pasmore said there were ‘very, very few’ identity documents recovered (Image: PA)

Mr Pasmore said investigators remain “open-minded” when commenting on earlier reports the lorry could have been part of a convoy of three lorries carrying 100 people. 

“There are lines of inquiry that are set of course to establish whether or not there are wider conspiracies involved in this and the lines of inquiry are set to identify the wider conspiracy, but I can say no more than that.”

In the news briefing, Mr Pasmore told reporters Essex Police cannot speculate on the nationalities of those found in the lorry.

The force said establishing the identities of the victims will take some time, but will focus on engagement with the Vietnamese community.

DCI Pasmore also said Essex Police are investigating lines of inquiry to “establish whether there is a wider conspiracy involved” in the deaths of the 39 people.

The Vietnamese embassy in London said it did not have official confirmation of the identity of the 39 victims. 

In a statement, the embassy said its ambassador has spoken to Britain’s interior minister and remains in close contact with the police as they continue work to identify the bodies. 

It said: “According to the Essex Police, the identification and nationality of the victims are still under investigation.

“The Embassy of Vietnam and relevant UK agencies affirmed the willingness to exchange information and to coordinate in order to facilitate the identification of the victims.”

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