Community in ‘complete shock’ over truck driver’s arrest

Residents of a rural village where Mo Robinson lived are hoping the truck driver is an innocent party to the container deaths horror, a councillor has said.

The community of Laurelvale in Co Armagh, where Mr Robinson’s parents live, was said to be in “complete shock” in the wake of his arrest on suspicion of the murder of the 39 Chinese nationals found dead in a refrigeration container at an industrial park in Essex.

Councillor Paul Berry said the family was very well respected in the area, and people were struggling to take in the enormity of Wednesday’s events in south-east England.

Bodies found in lorry container
Floral tributes at the Waterglade Industrial Park (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“In the local area the feeling is one of complete shock and hope this is not a true story in terms of his involvement,” he said.

Mr Robinson is understood to have moved to a house on the outskirts of nearby Markethill recently.

That detached property in the Co Armagh countryside and the semi-detached family home in a development in Laurelvale were searched by police officers from Northern Ireland on Wednesday night as part of the investigation led by Essex Police.

There was no answer at the family home through Wednesday, with neighbours insisting no one was in.

The family are well known in the area and are heavily involved with local football club Laurelvale FC.

Mr Robinson’s passion for truck driving is clear from his social media posts.

Pictures of a red and white Scania feature prominently.

Like the vehicle at the centre of the police probe, it has an “ultimate dream” sticker on the windscreen.

The dog-loving trucker, who attended Southern Regional College in Co Armagh, is known to have worn a cowboy style hat when at the wheel.

Mr Berry has been in contact with Mr Robinson’s father several times since the arrest.

He said the father initially learned of his son’s detention through social media.

“He had said he had been getting messages via people on social media on what was happening and at that stage it was not confirmed to him or his family that his son had been arrested,” said the independent representative.

“The local community is hoping that he has been caught up innocently in this matter but that’s in the hands of Essex Police, and we will leave it in their professional hands to try to catch the perpetrators of this.”

Mr Berry, who expressed his sympathies for those who had died, said the Robinson family had been left upset by the “unwelcome spotlight” the incident had shone on them.

“It was very distressing for the family as they just felt they were captive in their own home,” he said.

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