Lorry driver accused over container deaths admits illegal immigration charge

A lorry driver accused over the deaths of 39 migrants has pleaded guilty to plotting to assist illegal immigration.

Maurice Robinson, 25, who was allegedly part of a global smuggling ring, is charged with the manslaughter of a group of men, women and children found dead in a refrigerated trailer.

The bodies of eight females and 31 males were discovered in the trailer attached to his Scania cab in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, early on October 23.

The container lorry in which 39 people were found dead
The container lorry in which 39 people were found dead (Aaron Chown/PA)

The victims were later identified as coming from various provinces of Vietnam, with the youngest being two boys aged 15.

Robinson, who is known as Mo, appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Belmarsh prison for a plea hearing.

15 PHOTOS
39 bodies found in shipping container in Essex
See Gallery
39 bodies found in shipping container in Essex
Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate.
(left to right) Mayor of Thurrock Terry Piccolo, Superintendent Craig Saunders and Chief Inspector Claire Talbot (both of Essex Police) sign the Book of Condolence in the Council Chamber of Thurrock Council in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, on Wednesday.
The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaves Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, heading towards Tilbury Docks under police escort.
Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills speaks to the media at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry on the industrial estate.
Police forensics officers at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry on the industrial estate.
Floral tributes at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry on the industrial estate.
Murder probe launched as 39 bodies are found in lorry container in Essex
Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate.
Police officers are seen at the scene where bodies were discovered in a lorry container, in Grays, Essex, Britain October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Police officers are seen at the scene where bodies were discovered in a lorry container, in Grays, Essex, Britain October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Murder probe launched as 39 bodies are found in lorry container in Essex
Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate.
Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate.
Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate.
Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Wearing a light blue sweater and tan trousers, he spoke to confirm his identity and British nationality.

During the hearing before Mr Justice Edis, he admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between May 1 2018 and October 24 2019.

The charge states that he plotted with others to do "an act or series of acts which facilitated the commission of a breach of immigration law by various persons".

He also admitted acquiring criminal property – namely cash – on the same dates.

Court artist sketch of Maurice Robinson
Robinson appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Belmarsh prison (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

The defendant, of Laurel Drive in Craigavon in Northern Ireland, was not asked to enter pleas to other charges, including 39 counts of manslaughter.

He is charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking offences between May 1 2018 and October 24 2019.

The details of that charge state that he "arranged or facilitated the travel of other persons into the UK with a view to their being exploited".

He is also charged with transferring criminal property.

The defendant was remanded into custody until a further hearing on December 13.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS