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Essex lorry deaths accused Harrison was watching Netflix as trailer loaded, court told

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Eamonn Harrison (centre) (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Eamonn Harrison (centre) (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Eamonn Harrison (centre) (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

A lorry driver accused over the deaths of 39 migrants has told jurors he was watching Netflix in bed with the curtains drawn at the time people were allegedly being loaded into his trailer.

Eamonn Harrison, 23, dropped off a sealed container with the Vietnamese victims inside at Zeebrugge in Belgium on October 22 last year, the Old Bailey has heard.

By the time they arrived at Purfleet port in Essex, all 39 men, women and children had suffocated, jurors have heard.

Giving evidence, Harrison has denied knowing there were people in his trailer on that day or on two earlier, successful people-smuggling trips.

He told jurors he agreed to deal with "stolen goods" because he owed his boss Ronan Hughes over a drink-drive accident in one of his trucks.

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Eamonn Harrison driving Ronan Hughes’ lorry near the France/Belgium border (Essex Police/PA)

Eamonn Harrison driving Ronan Hughes’ lorry near the France/Belgium border (Essex Police/PA)

PA

Eamonn Harrison driving Ronan Hughes’ lorry near the France/Belgium border (Essex Police/PA)

On the morning of October 22 last year, Harrison had parked his lorry near Bierne in northern France.

He said he had expected to take a consignment of Coca-Cola before he spoke to Hughes.

Harrison said: "Ronan told me there would be no load of Coca-Cola but there would be a load of stolen goods."

He said he waited for half an hour for a Romanian he knew as Alex to arrive before setting off to get breakfast at McDonald's.

The defendant said: "Ronan was in contact with me to tell me to turn around and the man was there."

He said Alex was not present but another eastern European was.

"He clearly knew the lorry, what it was there for.

"He goes to me, 'are you OK?'. I said yes. He was telling me where he wanted me to go. His English was not really the best."

The defendant said the man told him to "close the curtains" and "lie down" once he had moved his lorry.

He did as he was told and watched "a wee bit Netflix" in bed, Harrison said.

He told jurors: "I got a bang on the door. He gives me a thumbs up and I move off. That's what I did. It was fairly quick, five minutes."

Harrison, of Co Down, has denied the manslaughter of 39 migrants and being involved in a wider people-smuggling operation.

Jurors have heard that Hughes, 41, of Co Armagh, has admitted his involvement in the tragedy.

Belfast Telegraph


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