Lorry driver, Maurice Robinson, has appeared in Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court, accused of 39 counts of manslaughter including conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.
Maurice Robinson, 25, from Craigavon, was charged with the manslaughter of 39 migrants who were found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex.
Besides the accusation of human trafficking and the breach of immigration law, he was also charged with two other counts, money laundering and concealing criminal property.
Prosecutor Ogheneruona Iguyovwe told the court, Robinson’s conspiracy charges are like a ‘global ring’ which involves ‘the movement of a large number of illegal immigrants into the UK’.
Robinson was remanded in custody at the Magistrates’ Court in Chelmsford after his appearance via video link. He was not asked to indicate a plea and will next appear at the Old Bailey on 25 November.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel joined at Thurrock Council’s office, signed a book of condolence and paid their respects to the 39 victims by laying flowers in the nearby Mulberry garden.
Boris Johnson said with a strong will, “the whole world has been shocked by this tragedy. In condemning the callousness of those responsible for this crime, we in the government of the United Kingdom resolve to do everything in our power to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Essex Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst added, “We recognise the public concern around the incident and thank for the support from different departments at this difficult time. We can assure that everybody is working together to achieve the outcome of the victims deserve.”
Essex Police initially claimed the 39 victims – 31 men and eight women- were Chinese nationals. Since then, Vietnamese families came forward to claim that their relatives may be have been in the trailer.
Reuters reported the UK government has sent documents to Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security in order to identify four victims out of 39.
Words: Wanchen Cao
Photo: Essex Police, Julia Quenzler