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Tilbury Docks container death: two Northern Ireland lorry drivers are remanded

By Helen William

Two lorry drivers from Northern Ireland have been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged in connection with the death of a man found in a container in docks in England.

Stephen McLaughlin (34), of Rose Park in Limavady, and Timothy Murphy (33) of Elmgrove in Londonderry, are accused of conspiring to facilitate illegal entry into the UK.

The men, both from Co Derry, spoke only to confirm their names and personal details when they appeared during separate hearings at Chelmsford Magistrates Court in Essex.

They are charged with conspiring with each other and "with other persons unknown" to "clandestinely convey 35 Afghan nationals by sea in to an English port which facilitated the commission of a breach of immigration law".

The alleged offence is said to have taken place between August 1 and 17.

The men sat quietly in the dock as they were each remanded in custody until a hearing at Basildon Crown Court on a date to be set during the week beginning November 17.

Meet Singh Kapoor (40), from Afghanistan, was found dead inside the container at Tilbury Docks on August 16.

He was among a group of 35 Sikh immigrants, including 13 children, the rest of whom survived the ordeal.

The group, whose ages ranged from one to 72, are believed to have fled Afghanistan after suffering persecution.

McLaughlin, a father-of-four, was on his way home to his partner and young children at their house in Limavady when he was stopped by detectives on the A1 dual carriageway near Banbridge, Co Down last Tuesday.

PSNI officers searched a number of properties last Tuesday, including McLaughlin's home.

He was flown to Essex for questioning on Wednesday night.

The 34 survivors have all now been released from hospital. They were taken into the care of the Home Office after being discharged. They included nine men and eight women aged 18 to 72 as well as 13 children.

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