Police hunt for two brothers from Northern Ireland over 39 deaths in lorry

Police investigating the deaths of 39 people found dead in a lorry have named two suspects they want to speak to on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.

Essex Police released pictures of Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, both from from Armagh in Northern Ireland, on Tuesday.

The pair are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.

Police hunt for two brothers from Northern Ireland over 39 deaths in lorry

According to the force, Ronan Hughes, who also goes by the name Rowan, and Christopher Hughes have links to Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper, who is leading the investigation, said: "Finding and speaking to the Hughes brothers is crucial to our investigation.

"At this time we believe they are in Northern Ireland but they also have links to the Irish Republic.

"If you know where they are or have any information about their whereabouts I need you to call my team.

"This is a case where 39 men and women have tragically died and support from the community is going to be vital to help bring those responsible to justice."

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailer attached to a lorry in an industrial park in Grays in the early hours of last Wednesday.

Mo Robinson, 25, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, and money laundering.

Three other people arrested in connection with the incident – a 38 year-old man, a 38 year-old woman, and a 46 year-old man – have all been released on bail until November.

Bodies found in lorry container
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of lorry driver Maurice Robinson

The discovery has sparked a huge international investigation to try and identify the victims.

Essex Police initially believed the 39 were all Chinese nationals, but Vietnamese men and women are feared to be among the dead.

All of the victims have since been moved from the vehicle to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford for post-mortem examinations to be carried out.

It is not yet known when the victims entered the trailer, where temperatures can be as low as minus 25C if the fridge is activated, or the exact route it travelled.

Bodies found in lorry container
Police forensics officers examine the lorry in Grays (Aaron Chown/PA)

Belgian officials said the trailer arrived at Zeebrugge at 2.49pm on Tuesday and left the port the same day en route to Purfleet in Essex.

The trailer arrived at Purfleet at around 12.30am on Wednesday, and was picked up by the cab, known as the tractor, which arrived from Northern Ireland via Holyhead in North Wales on Sunday.

The lorry left the port at Purfleet shortly after 1.05am before police were called to the Waterglade Industrial Park on Eastern Avenue in Grays at 1.40am.

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