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  1. ITV Report

NI man pleads guilty to manslaughter over lorry deaths

The bodies of the victims were found in a lorry container in Essex last year. Credit: PA

Northern Ireland lorry driver Maurice Robinson has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 39 people found dead in a refrigerated truck in Essex.

The 25-year-old, from Laurel Drive in Craigavon, entered his plea during a virtual hearing at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

The bodies of the victims were found in a trailer attached to Mo Robinson’s Scania cab in an industrial park in the Grays area of Essex in the early hours of 23 October 2019.

The eight females and 31 males were all identified as Vietnamese nationals and included 10 teenagers – two of them boys aged just 15.

Maurice 'Mo' Robinson has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 39 people.

Robinson had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

During Wednesday’s hearing, via video link, he admitted the 39 counts of manslaughter, but denied a further charge of transferring criminal property.

Robinson appeared alongside four other co-defendants:

  • Gheorghe Nica, 43 and from Mimosa Close in the Langdon Hills area of Essex - denied 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
  • Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, 27 and from Hobart Road in the Tilbury area of Essex - denied a charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
  • Christopher Kennedy, 23 and from Corkley Road in Darkley, south Armagh - has previously denied conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
  • Valentin Calota, 37 and from Cossington Road in Birmingham - was not asked to enter a plea to the charge of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration

Prosecutor William Emlyn Jones QC said a human trafficking conspiracy charge was being dropped in relation to both Kennedy and Robinson.

He asked for three weeks to decide whether to proceed with a trial against Robinson on the outstanding charge he faced.

The other defendants face a trial at the Old Bailey lasting up to eight weeks from 5 October.

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