Belfast Telegraph

Fifteen arrested after being found in back of lorry

Fifteen people have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences after being discovered in the back of a lorry in Wiltshire
Fifteen people have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences after being discovered in the back of a lorry in Wiltshire

By Rod Minchin

Fifteen people have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences after being discovered in the back of a lorry in Wiltshire.

In addition, a man in his 50s from Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of assisting with illegal entry in the country.

It was not clear last night whether he is from the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland.

Wiltshire Police said they closed the A350 at the Kington Langley crossroads near Chippenham after being called by a member of the public shortly before 8.30pm on Wednesday. Officers attended the scene and 15 people - all believed to be men aged between 16 and 30 - were located in the rear of the vehicle.

Ambulance service staff carried out initial medical checks on the group and all but one were deemed fit and well and were taken into custody.

One person was taken to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon as a precaution but was later released into custody.

Wiltshire Police said the force was "not clear" about the nationalities of the 15 at this stage.

Superintendent Steve Cox said: "Members of the public would have noticed a large number of emergency services in the vicinity of the A350 last night while we dealt with this incident and the road was closed for approximately four hours while we carried out enquiries at the scene and recovery was arranged for the lorry, which was a hard-sided large goods vehicle.

"We are working closely with partner agencies as we conduct further enquiries - I fully understand that recent tragic events elsewhere in the country will mean there will be increased interest and heightened concern regarding this incident.

"I'd like to thank all emergency services who responded last night - as with all incidents, we didn't know the scale of what we would potentially be dealing with and all first responders showed true professionalism at the scene.

"I would also like to extend my thanks to the vigilant member of the public who initially reported this incident to us - it is thanks to them that this incident was resolved swiftly and safely with no serious casualties."

It comes after eight people were arrested earlier this week by Vietnamese police in connection with the 39 migrants found dead in a lorry in Essex. All 39 have now been formally identified, police said yesterday.

Essex Police said a series of files had been brought before an identification commission with the assistance of Vietnamese police.

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray has now formally identified all of the victims and their families have been notified.

All of the deceased were Vietnamese nationals, a spokesman for Essex Police said.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, who is leading the investigation, 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."

Vietnam sent a delegation of officials to the UK earlier this week to assist with the investigation. Police in the country have so far arrested two people in Ha Tinh province and nine in Nghe An province on suspicion of organising people smuggling.

So far, two people have been charged in the UK.

Essex Police have started extradition proceedings to bring 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison from the Irish Republic to the UK. Harrison, of Newry in Co Down, appeared at Dublin High Court last Friday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, along with human trafficking and immigration offences, and was remanded in custody.

The driver of the lorry, Mo Robinson (25) appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on October 28 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.

There is no suggestion of any connection between events in Essex and those in Wiltshire yesterday.

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