A haulier has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Vietnamese migrants found dead inside a lorry container in Essex last October.

Ronan Hughes, 40, of Co Armagh in Northern Ireland, entered his plea at the Old Bailey.

He was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter after the bodies of 39 Vietnamese men, women and children were found suffocated in the trailer of a lorry on an industrial estate in Grays in the early hours of 23 October 2019.

Hughes also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between 1 May 2018 and 24 October 2019.

Image: Police and forensics officers in Grays, Essex, last October

Among the victims discovered in the container were 10 teenagers, the youngest of whom were two 15-year-old boys. The oldest person found deceased was 44.


DNA from families who believed their relatives were victims was used to identify many of them.

An inquest has heard the victims' medical cause of death was asphyxia (a lack of oxygen) and hyperthermia (overheating) in an enclosed space.

More from Essex Lorry Deaths

Prosecutors alleged Hughes played a leading role by allowing his trailers and drivers to be used in human trafficking, and was one of several men accused of being part of a people-smuggling ring linked to the deaths.

Hughes appeared in the dock alongside Eamonn Harrison, 23, from Mayobridge in Northern Ireland – after both men were extradited from the Republic of Ireland last month.

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

He pleaded not guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Maurice Robinson has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit unlawful immigration
Image: Maurice Robinson also pleaded guilty to manslaughter

In April, lorry driver Maurice Robinson,25, from Craigavon in Northern Ireland, also pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter over the deaths.

Robinson also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration of non-EU citizens between May 1 2018 and October 24 2019 and acquiring criminal property, but denieRead More – Source


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