Police release haulage boss Thomas Maher and wife Joanna on bail after 39 dead in lorry arrest

Police release haulage firm boss, 38, and his wife who were arrested over death truck on bail – after seizing cars from outside their GBP400,000 Cheshire home

  • Thomas Maher and his wife Joanna have been released on bail until Nov 11 
  • The two 38-year-olds were arrested at their home in Cheshire on Friday 
  • They were both being questioned on supsicion of manslaughter of 39 migrants
  • Their bodies were found inside a lorry in Grays, Essex early on Wednesday  

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Police have released a haulage boss and his wife on bail after seizing cars from outside their home in connection with the deaths of 39 migrants in a lorry. 

Thomas Maher and his wife Joanna, both 38, were arrested on Friday following the discovery of the bodies inside a truck in Grays, Essex, on Wednesday. 

They previously told MailOnline they had owned the container the victims’ remains were found in until last year. They have now been bailed until November 11. 

The couple were detained at their GBP400,000 home in Cheshire before detectives seized a white Chevrolet Corvette, grey Range Rover Sport and Discovery Sport with personalised number plates, and a Kawasaki motor bike all parked outside.   

Three flat-bed trucks with winches arrived at the property yesterday afternoon to remove the three cars and the lime green motorbike under the guidance of senior police officers.

Joanna and Thomas Maher, arrested in connection with Essex lorry deaths. They have now been released on bail 

It is understood the cars and bike will undergo forensic examination at an undisclosed location.

Mr Maher, a former lorry driver, is the director of two UK firms – Thomas Maher Transport (TMT) Ltd and a hairdressing salon called New Hair Don’t Care. According to latest accounts, the firms have total net assets of around GBP17,000.

Documents name Mrs Maher as the owner of the Scania cab driven by Mo Robinson, 25, when the 39 bodies of migrants was discovered in a refrigerated trailer near Purfleet docks in Essex.

Robinson has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and other immigration offences.  

The cab was registered in Bulgaria to a firm called Today’s Movements Tomorrow.

Before their arrest, the couple said it had been sold last year to a company in County Monaghan, Ireland. ‘I went to British police as we were the registered owners [of the cab in Bulgaria],’ Mr Maher told reporters. ‘I phoned them myself.

They were happy we had come forward.’

Neighbours said they moved into the four-bedroomed home two years ago and described them as a ‘nice and normal’ couple.

Police release haulage boss Thomas Maher and wife Joanna on bail after 39 dead in lorry arrest

Police yesterday seized three expensive cars and a motorbike belonging to an Irish haulage company boss and his wife arrested in connection with the deaths of 39 immigrants

Friends said they liked to treat their children, aged 18, 12 and ten, to family holidays in Mexico and Jamaica.

‘They work hard and moan about Brexit non-stop, like most business people,’ said one. ‘They’ve been very worried about the possible effect on the haulage business.’

The friend said the family are avid Manchester United fans and regularly go to games. They added: ‘It’s the children I feel sorry for now. They’ve got no other family in Warrington and I’m worried sick for them.’

Hours after the Mahers were arrested, a 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland was detained at Stansted Airport on suspicion of trafficking and manslaughter.

In a further development, a trucker in his 20s was yesterday arrested at Dublin port in connection with an earlier unrelated assault charge. 

Police said the man was of interest to them in connection with the deaths of the 39 migrants, but did not specify why or how.

The driver was returning to Ireland from the UK in his lorry cab when he was detained.

He appeared before a judge in Dublin over his failure to appear in court last November to face assault and criminal damage charges and was remanded in custody.

Police release haulage boss Thomas Maher and wife Joanna on bail after 39 dead in lorry arrest

The vehicles – a white Chevrolet Corvette, and his-and-hers grey Range Rover Sport and Discovery Sport – are owned by Thomas and Joanna Maher, who remain in police custody

Meanwhile, Essex Police said they were using dental records as well as fingerprints and DNA to identify the 39 victims in the lorry trailer.

The force said that each of the victims – 31 men and eight women – were carrying a bag, clothes and other belongings.

‘So far we have over 500 exhibits, including mobile phones, which have to have data downloaded,’ it said.

An Essex Police spokesman said with regard to the Mahers’: ‘A 38 year-old man and a 38 year-old woman from Warrington were arrested in Cheshire on Friday 25 October while a 46 year-old man from Northern Ireland was arrested at Stansted Airport later the same day.

‘All three had been questioned on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.

‘The man and woman from Warrington have both been released on bail until 11 November while the man from Northern Ireland has been bailed until 13 November.’  

Mo Robinson has now been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering. 

Robinson is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday.  

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