Death truck accused and ‘ringleader’ refused bail

A man facing extradition to Britain on 39 charges of manslaughter and people smuggling has been refused bail by the High Court in Dublin. Ronan Hughes, 40, from Silverstream, Tyholland, Co. Monaghan, wore a mask as he watched proceedings by video link from Cloverhill Prison in Dublin yesterday.

He faces 39 charges of manslaughter and a charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration in connection with the deaths of 39 migrants found in a refrigerated container lorry in Essex.

Ronan Hughes has been refused bail in Dublin.r.

Judge Paul Burns said there was a 'serious risk' he would abscond if he was granted bail. He said that Mr Hughes has significant connections across Europe through his haulage business. Judge Burns said that, while Mr Hughes had promised to abide by any conditions, he would not grant him bail.

He said aspects of Mr Hughes' evidence about his financial affairs, movement of lorries and his Northern Irish driving licence were 'unconvincing and lacking in credibility'. The court was told on Wednesday that Mr Hughes was described as the 'ringleader' of a criminal gang involved in smuggling people illegally into the UK.

The bodies of 39 people were discovered in a refrigeration container attached to a truck in Grays, Essex. Pic: EPA/Vickie Flores

Detective Sergeant James Kirwan said Mr Hughes had many vehicles, and that EUR210,000 of his money was frozen in 33 bank accounts.

On April 8, Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon, Co. Armagh, pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter at the Old Bailey in London. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Judge Burns told the court yesterday that Mr Hughes has connections in Europe, a business registered in Bulgaria and a good knowledge of ports. He also said that Mr Hughes has ties to the Republic as he lives at home with his wife and two children. But the Covid-19 restrictions did not prevent Mr Hughes from absconding as ports were still open.

Death truck accused and ‘ringleader’ refused bail

The bodies of 39 migrants were discovered ln a refrigeration container attached to a truck in an industrial estate in Grays, Essex.

Pic: EPA/VICKIE FLORES

The 39 Vietnamese nationals were found in a lorry container parked on an industrial estate in Grays on October 23 last year. Ten teenagers, including two 15-year-old boys, were among the dead. Four other men will stand trial in connection with the investigation on Monday, October 5.

Another man, 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison, from Mayobridge, Co.

Down, is appealing against his extradition from the Republic of Ireland to the UK to face charges related to the Essex lorry discovery.

Mr Hughes was remanded into custody until May 15.

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