Northern Ireland man due in court today after being charged over deaths of migrants found in Essex container

A man from Northern Ireland has been charged with human trafficking offences after the bodies of 39 migrants were found in a refrigerated lorry container in Essex.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 12:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 2:30 am

Christopher Kennedy, 23, was arrested in the early hours of Friday morning on the M40.

Kennedy, from Darkley, Co Armagh, has been charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of people with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law.

Essex Police said he is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court today.

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It comes after it emerged that one of the teenagers found dead in the trailer in an industrial park in Grays had gone missing from an asylum centre in the Netherlands.

The country’s Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) told local media the youngster had run away from a shelter for vulnerable migrants.

The agency would not give details about the name or age of the teenager.

Ten teenagers, including two 15-year-old boys, were among the bodies of 39 Vietnamese nationals discovered in the early hours of October 23, shortly after the lorry arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

The driver, Mo Robinson, 25, from Northern Ireland, is expected to appear at the Old Bailey on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Extradition proceedings have also been launched in Ireland to bring Eamonn Harrison, 22, from Mayobridge in Newry to the UK.

He appeared at Dublin’s Central Criminal Court on Thursday after he was arrested on a European arrest warrant in respect of 39 counts of manslaughter, one count of human trafficking and one count of assisting unlawful immigration.

Detectives have also urged Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, from Armagh, Northern Ireland, to hand themselves in.

They are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.

Last weekend an Irish Sunday tabloid revealed that Ronan Hughes had been living openly at his home in County Monaghan in the Irish Republic.

The Garda Síochána cannot arrest or question him or his brother until Essex police issue a European arrest warrant, which if successful would enable the force to extradite them to the UK.