Second man charged with manslaughter over Essex lorry deaths

UK news[1]

Eamon Harrison, 23, also faces human trafficking and unlawful immigration charges

The bodies of 39 people being transported under police escort by private ambulance from the Port of Tilbury to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford last Friday.Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

A man from Northern Ireland has been charged with multiple counts of manslaughter in relation to the discovery of 39 bodies in a lorry container near London last week. Eamon Harrison, 23, appeared in court in Dublin on Friday to face 41 charges, including 39 manslaughter charges, conspiracy to commit human trafficking and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, after the endorsement of a European arrest warrant. UK authorities suspect he delivered the trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before its onward journey to England.

CCTV taken at a truck stop in Veurne, Belgium, showed Harrison to be the driver of the lorry that later deposited the trailer at Zeebrugge, DS Jim Kirwan of the garda’s extradition unit told the court. Harrison, from Mayobridge in County Down, will face an extradition hearing later this month. He was arrested at Dublin port last Saturday after taking a ferry from France.

He is the second person to be charged in relation to the tragedy. Maurice “Mo” Robinson, 25, another Northern Ireland haulier who collected the trailer from Purfleet in Essex, was charged on Monday with similar offences. The news came as police in Vietnam arrested two people on Friday on suspicion of involvement in the deaths.

Ha Tinh police also summoned others for questioning as part of an investigation into human trafficking, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Essex police appealed separately to two Irish brothers who are wanted in connection with the deaths to turn themselves in. DCI Daniel Stoten told a press conference in Belfast that Ronan and Christopher Hughes should come forward to face questioning over suspected manslaughter and people trafficking.

Stoten also confirmed that police recently spoke by phone with Ronan Hughes but that his whereabouts were not known since the victims’ bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry[2] in Essex on 23 October. “Today I want to make a direct appeal: Ronan and Christopher, hand yourselves in to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. We need you both to come forward and assist this investigation,” he said.

Second man charged with manslaughter over Essex lorry deaths

DCI Daniel Stoten of Essex police at the press conference in Belfast.

Photograph: David Young/PA

“Although we have already spoken to Ronan Hughes recently by telephone we need to have a conversation with him and his brother in person. Talking to Ronan and Christopher is crucial to our investigation and the sooner we can make this happen the sooner we can progress and continue with our investigation.” Ronan, 40, and Christopher, 34, are believed to be originally from County Monaghan, in the Republic of Ireland, and to run a haulage business that straddles the border with County Armagh in Northern Ireland.

Five other people from the island of Ireland have been arrested in connection with the tragedy. Robinson, 25, who drove the lorry container in which the eight women and 31 men were found, was charged[3] on Monday with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, and money laundering. Prosecutors allege he was part of a global ring of traffickers.

Ronan Hughes rented the lorry container and is believed to have hired Robinson to collect it from Purfleet, where it arrived on a ferry from [4]Zeebrugge[5]. Earlier this week, it was reported that Hughes phoned police soon after the discovery of the bodies and said Robinson was unaware of the clandestine human cargo. Stoten told the press conference that on Thursday police had seized a lorry connected to the Hughes brothers.

They had links to haulage and shipping industries, he said.

He urged anyone with information about them to come forward. “It is essential we follow all lines of inquiry and bring those responsible for these tragic events to justice.”

Last week, residents in Hughes’s neighbourhood who identified themselves as relatives said the brothers were not at home and declined to comment.



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