Belfast Telegraph

Essex lorry deaths: Police identify 39 victims and break news to devastated families

The lorry in which the bodies were discovered
The lorry in which the bodies were discovered

The 39 victims found dead in a lorry in Essex have all been formally identified and their families notified, Essex Police has confirmed.

Essex Police has been working with Vietnamese police officers to present cases to the senior coroner for Essex to identify the eight women and 31 men found dead in a refrigerated lorry container on October 23.

HM Senior Coroner, Mrs Caroline Beasley-Murray, said: “May I take this opportunity to offer my deepest condolences to the victims’ families.”

The senior officer in charge of the probe, Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, said: “This is an important step in the investigation and enables us to work with our Vietnamese Police colleagues to support the families of those victims.

"It is only right that we provide an opportunity for family members to take in the news confirming the death of their loved ones before releasing any further information.

"Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those whose tragic journey ended on our shores.”

Essex Police continues to lead the investigation, working with the National Crime Agency and with European law enforcement colleagues.

Essex Police have started extradition proceedings to bring 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison from Ireland to the UK.

Harrison, of Newry in Co Down, appeared at Dublin High Court last week charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, along with human trafficking and immigration offences, and was remanded in custody.

The driver of the lorry, Maurice 'Mo' Robinson (25), appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Detectives have also urged Ronan Hughes (40) and his brother Christopher (34), said to have links with the road haulage and shipping industries, to hand themselves in.

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

It is understood Ronan Hughes spoke to police shortly after Robinson was arrested.

Three other people arrested - two men aged 38 and 46 and a 38-year-old woman - have been released on bail.

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