Essex lorry deaths: Driver charged with manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people

A man arrested earlier in the week in connection of the death of 39 people found in a lorry in Essex has been charged, Essex Police have said.

Maurice Robinson, 25, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people over the Grays lorry trailer deaths.

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were discovered in a refrigerated trailer in Grays in the early hours of Wednesday.

Robinson was arrested on Wednesday evening and has been in police custody since. He will appear in court on Monday.

An Essex Police statement said: "The Crown Prosecution service has authorised Essex Police to charge a man in connection with the investigating the deaths of 39 people whose bodies were found in Grays on Wednesday.

"Maurice Robinson, 25, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, Northern Ireland was arrested shortly after the discovery was made at the Waterglade Retail Park.

"He is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday 28 October charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

"Three other people have been arrested in connection with this investigation.

"A 38 year-old man and a 38 year-old woman from Warrington and a 48 year-old man from Northern Ireland, who were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter remain in custody."

39 people were found dead in a lorry in a port in Essex on Wednesday. Credit: PA

The charges came after a man wanted by Essex Police as part of the investigation was arrested at Dublin port on Saturday.

Gardai said the man, who is in his early 20s and from Northern Ireland, was held over an unrelated outstanding court order and will appear in court on Saturday afternoon.

He is understood to be sought by Essex Police as part of their investigation, and the force confirmed officers are in touch with Irish police.

Three other people arrested over the deaths, including a 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland who was detained at Stansted Airport on Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter, remain in custody.

Officers had earlier arrested a couple, named locally as haulage boss Thomas Maher and his wife Joanna, both 38, of Warrington, on suspicion of 39 counts of manslaughter and people trafficking.

In Belgium, police are hunting the driver who delivered the trailer to Zeebrugge, the port it left before arriving in the UK.

Authorities in the Belgium are working to "track the route of the container" and find anyone responsible for "collaborating with the transport".

A spokesperson from the Belgian prosecutor’s office confirmed: "We would like people to be arrested as soon as possible."

British police are working closely with their European counterparts to discover how and why the 39 people died during their journey to Essex port of Purfleet.

Essex Police are investigating lines of inquiry to "establish whether there is a wider conspiracy involved" in the deaths, Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore said on Saturday.

DCI Martin Pasmore said he had met with the Vietnamese ambassador on Saturday morning as part of efforts to engage with the country's wider community.

He said: "Although we can't speculate at this time on the nationality of our victims, it's clear from everybody that we are getting a large amount of engagement from the Vietnamese population, from communities home and abroad."

He added: "What I've done this morning, is I've met with the Vietnamese ambassador and we are building a really good and rapid rapport."

DCI Pasmore said the ambassador had visited and paid tribute at the civic centre in Grays.