Essex lorry deaths: Driver Mo Robinson admits being part of international smuggling ring

The driver of a refrigerated lorry in which 39 Vietnamese migrants died has today admitted being part of an international smuggling ring. Maurice Robinson, 25, was the first to be arrested after the shocking discovery of 31 men and eight women dead in the back of his truck on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex[1] last month. He faces manslaughter charges over the deaths of all those on board the lorry, as well allegations of people trafficking, breaking immigration laws, and money laundering.

At the Old Bailey[2] this morning, Robinson appeared via videolink from HMP Belmarsh to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and one count of money laundering.


39 Bodies found in a container at Waterglade Industrial Park, Grays


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Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate. PA

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Thirty-nine bodies, including one of a teenager, have been found in a lorry container in Essex. The bodies were found in a lorry on the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays

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A forensic officer inside the cab of a lorry at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex PA

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Police and forensic officers investigate a lorry in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer Getty Images

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A Police forensic investigation team at the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry

Jeremy Selwyn

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Flowers are pictured by a road sign on Eastern Avenue at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays AFP via Getty Images

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Police forensics officers at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry on the industrial estate PA

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Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estat

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Police and forensic officers investigate a lorry in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer Getty Images

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A Police forensic investigation team are parked near the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry Getty Images

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The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex

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People gather to watch as a lorry, in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer, is driven from the site to a secure location where further forensic investigation can take place Getty Images

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Police officers drive away a lorry in which 39 dead bodies were discovered sparking a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Gray AFP via Getty Images

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Police officers drive away a lorry, with black plastic visible at the rear, in which 39 dead bodies were discovered sparking a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays,

AFP via Getty Images

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The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex PA

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A lorry in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer is driven from the site to a secure location where further forensic investigation can take place Getty Images

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The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex

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The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, PA

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Police forensics officers at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex PA

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Police and forensic officers inspect the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry

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Police stand near the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry in Thurrock, England Getty Images

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An aerial view as police forensic officers attend the scene after a truck, seen at centre, was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thurrock AP

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Jeremy Selwyn

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An aerial view as police forensic officers attend the scene after a truck was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thurock

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Police stand near the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry in Thurrock, England Getty Images

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Police stand near the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry in Thurrock, England. The lorry was discovered early Wednesday morning in Waterglade Industrial Park on Eastern Avenue in the town of Grays.

Authorities said they believed the lorry originated in Bulgaria and entered the country at Holyhead on October 19. The suspected driver was arrested in connection with the investigation Getty Images

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Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate.

PA

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Thirty-nine bodies, including one of a teenager, have been found in a lorry container in Essex. The bodies were found in a lorry on the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays Sky News

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A forensic officer inside the cab of a lorry at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex

PA

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Police and forensic officers investigate a lorry in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer Getty Images

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A Police forensic investigation team at the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry Jeremy Selwyn

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Flowers are pictured by a road sign on Eastern Avenue at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays

AFP via Getty Images

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Police forensics officers at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry on the industrial estate PA

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Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estat PA

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Police and forensic officers investigate a lorry in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer

Getty Images

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A Police forensic investigation team are parked near the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry Getty Images

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The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex PA

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People gather to watch as a lorry, in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer, is driven from the site to a secure location where further forensic investigation can take place

Getty Images

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Police officers drive away a lorry in which 39 dead bodies were discovered sparking a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Gray AFP via Getty Images

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Police officers drive away a lorry, with black plastic visible at the rear, in which 39 dead bodies were discovered sparking a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, AFP via Getty Images

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The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex

PA

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A lorry in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer is driven from the site to a secure location where further forensic investigation can take place Getty Images

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The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex PA

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The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex,

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Police forensics officers at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex PA

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Police and forensic officers inspect the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry Getty Images

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Police stand near the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry in Thurrock, England

Getty Images

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An aerial view as police forensic officers attend the scene after a truck, seen at centre, was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thurrock AP

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Jeremy Selwyn

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An aerial view as police forensic officers attend the scene after a truck was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thurock AP

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Police stand near the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry in Thurrock, England

Getty Images

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Sky News

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Police stand near the site where 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry in Thurrock, England. The lorry was discovered early Wednesday morning in Waterglade Industrial Park on Eastern Avenue in the town of Grays. Authorities said they believed the lorry originated in Bulgaria and entered the country at Holyhead on October 19.

The suspected driver was arrested in connection with the investigation Getty Images

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The charges relate to a 17-month conspiracy running between May 2018 and October 24 this year. Robinson was not asked to enter pleas this morning to 39 counts of manslaughter that he faces, as well as the human trafficking allegation and another money laundering charge.

The truck driver, who is British, pleaded guilty to conspiring with two other men and “other persons unknown” to break the British immigration laws, according to the charge sheet. He admitted doing acts which “facilitated the commission of a breach of immigration law by various persons knowing or intending that the acts would facilitate a breach of immigration law by those persons; and those persons were not citizens of the European Union”. Prosecutor William Emlyn Jones told the court this morning that the police investigation into the 39 deaths is still live, and “spans a number of different jurisdictions”.

A previous hearing was told police are probing a “global ring facilitating movement of a large number of illegal immigrants into the UK”.

Mr Justice Edis remanded Robinson in custody this morning until the next hearing on December 13.

More about: | Essex | Old Bailey[3][4]

References

  1. ^ Essex (www.standard.co.uk)
  2. ^ Old Bailey (www.standard.co.uk)
  3. ^ Essex (www.standard.co.uk)
  4. ^ Old Bailey (www.standard.co.uk)

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