Man arrested in connection with 39 Essex lorry deaths

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A man has been arrested in connection with a police investigation into the deaths of 39 people, who were found in a lorry in Essex last year. Police arrested a man, aged 42, in London today on suspicion of an immigration offence. A spokesman from Essex Police said: ‘A man has been arrested in London today, April 16, on suspicion of an immigration offence. ‘The 42-year-old, from Tottenham, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to facilitate the entry of non-EU citizens into the UK.

‘It is connected to our ongoing investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals, who were sadly discovered in a lorry container in Grays on October 23, 2019.’ The bodies of 31 male and eight female migrants were found in a refrigerated container in Waterglade Industrial Park, Grays on October 23. They were later identified as coming from various provinces of Vietnam, with the youngest being two boys aged 15. The lorry arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium. The news of the latest arrest comes after lorry driver Maurice Robinson, 25, last week admitted killing 39 people.

Robinson, of Craigavon in Northern Ireland, pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the Old Bailey last Wednesday. Five men charged following an investigation by Essex Police appeared for a virtual hearing at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Sweeney. Robinson had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property. He denied a further charge of transferring criminal property. Robinson appeared at court via video link alongside four other co-defendants. British Romanian Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills, denied 39 counts of manslaughter. He also denied one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between May 1, 2018 and October 24, 2019. Romanian national Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, 27, of Tilbury, denied a charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Christopher Kennedy, 23, of Darkley, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, has previously denied conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. Valentin Calota, 37, of 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 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 October 5.