Lorry driver pleads guilty to manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese migrants found dead in his vehicle in Essex

PLEADS GUILTY: Maurice Robinson appeared at Old Bailey via video-link Credit Twitter

A LORRY driver from Essex has pleased guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter following the deaths of Vietnamese migrants last October.

Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon, County Armagh, previously admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, after the bodies of 31 males and eight females were found in a refrigerator trailer in Grays, Essex, on October 23.

Co-defendant Gheorghe Nica, 43, denied 39 counts of manslaughter at the same Old Bailey hearing.

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They both appeared at the hearing via a video-link, which was carried out virtually with lawyers and court reporters attending by Skype.

Among the bodies discovered at an industrial estate shortly after the lorry arrived in the UK from Zeebrugge, Belgium, via ferry, were 10 teenagers, two of them 15-year-old boys.

Last month, it was revealed they died of hyperthermia and asphyxia.
Three other men charged with offences in connection with the deaths also appeared at the Old Bailey via video-link.

Romanian national Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, 27, Christopher Kennedy, 23, denied conspiring to assist unlawful immigration, while Valentin Calota, 37, was not asked to enter a plea to the same charge.

Robinson also admitted one charge of transferring criminal property, but denied a charge of transferring criminal property.

Prosecutor William Emlyn Jones QC requested three weeks to decide whether to proceed with a trial against Robinson on that charge.
The other defendants face an eight-week trial due to begin on October 5.


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