Detectives urge Armagh brothers Ronan and Christopher Hughes to hand themselves in for questioning
Detectives have urged the Armagh brothers sought for questioning over the deaths of 39 migrants in Essex last week to hand themselves in to police in Northern Ireland.
Ronan (40) and Christopher Hughes (34) are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking following the discovery of the bodies in a shipping container in Grays last week.
Speaking at a press conference at PSNI Headquarters in Belfast, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten appealed for the two men to turn themselves in to the authorities.
“I want to make a direct appeal. Ronan and Christopher hand yourself in to police. We need you both to come forward and assist us with this investigation,” he said.
“Finding Ronan and Christopher Hughes is crucial to our investigation and the sooner we can make this happen, the sooner we can get on with our enquires and bring those responsible for these tragic deaths to justice.”
It was also revealed that Ronan Hughes had phoned police moments after lorry driver Mo Robinson (25), was arrested following the discovery.
“We need you both to come forward and assist this investigation,” he appealed.
“Although we have already spoken to Ronan Hughes recently by telephone we need to have a conversation with him and his brother in person.”
It was also confirmed that a lorry believed to be connected to the Hughes brothers was stopped and seized by the PSNI on Thursday, but no further arrests were made.
DCI Stoten praised the support people have offered the investigation so far.
“I would like to thank all those from communities in Northern Ireland and Ireland, along with those in the road haulage and shipping industries, who have come forward to share information and knowledge with us. Your help has been invaluable,” he said.
“We know that you are as appalled as the rest of the world following the deaths of 39 people, whose bodies were found in a container which travelled from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Grays in Essex last week.
“Ronan and Christopher Hughes are known to have links to Northern Ireland and Ireland, as well as the road haulage and shipping industries, and detectives would urge anyone who has been in contact with them or has any information about where they are to get in contact with us.
“You may think your information is insignificant but even the smallest detail could be vital.
“Anyone with information is asked to contact us on 101, online to the UK Police Major Incident Public Reporting site or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.”
DCI Stoten also thanked the PSNI, An Garda Siochana and communities on both sides of the border for their assistance in what has become a cross-border manhunt.
“We will continue to work with them until Ronan and Christopher Hughes come forward or are arrested,” he said.
Last night Essex police said they now believe all the victims are Vietnamese nationals. They had originally believed all of the victims were Chinese nationals.