Extradited NI lorry driver in English court over 39 Essex lorry deaths

A lorry driver has appeared in court charged with the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese migrants found dead in a container in Essex.

Police and forensic officers at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies of Vietnamese migrants were found inside the lorry on the industrial estate.
Police and forensic officers at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies of Vietnamese migrants were found inside the lorry on the industrial estate.

Eamonn Harrison, 23, of Mayobridge, Co Down, was extradited from Ireland to the UK on Wednesday and appeared before Southend Magistrates’ Court for a virtual hearing on Thursday.

He is alleged to have driven the lorry trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before it sailed to Purfleet in England.

Harrison is charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and one count of conspiracy to traffic people. He was not asked to enter pleas and was remanded to appear at the Old Bailey on August 20.

The bodies of the Vietnamese nationals were discovered on an industrial estate in Grays shortly after the container arrived in Purfleet on a ferry in the early hours of October 23 last year.

Among the men, women and children were 10 teenagers. An inquest heard that their medical cause of death was asphyxia and hyperthermia – a lack of oxygen and overheating.

The lorry’s driver, Maurice Robinson, 25, who took the container from the port where it arrived in Essex, admitted 39 counts of manslaughter at the Old Bailey in April after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Robinson, also admitted acquiring criminal property, but denied a further charge of transferring criminal property.