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UK lorry victims: Driver admits two charges, police arrest another man

November 26, 2019 | 10:01

A British driver accused of the manslaughter of 39 people found in the back of a container truck near London last month, pleaded guilty on Monday (Nov 25) to conspiring to assist illegal immigration. AFP also reported that UK police arrested another man in east London.

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Maurice Robinson, the 25-year-old driver of the lorry, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, and money laundering. Source: New York Post

Maurice Robinson, 25, appeared via video link at London's Central Criminal Court from the high-security Belmarsh prison, southeast London, and pleaded guilty to two of the 43 charges levelled against him.

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigeration trailer on an industrial estate east of London on Oct 23.

The trailer had earlier arrived on a cargo ferry from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

Robinson, from Northern Ireland, faces 39 charges of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Wearing a blue sweatshirt and talking to confirm his name, age and nationality, Robinson pleaded guilty to conspiring with others "to commit an offence of assisting unlawful immigration".

He also admitted to acquiring "criminal property namely cash, which he knew or suspected, constituted or represented his own or another's benefit from criminal conduct."

Judge ordered that Robinson's alleged co-conspirators could not be named.

The truck driver did not enter pleas on the other charges, and is due to appear before court again on Dec 13.

Another lorry driver from Northern Ireland was also ordered to appear at the Old Bailey on the same date after a separate court hearing.

Christopher Kennedy, 23, is accused of conspiring to arrange or facilitate the travel of other people with a view to exploitation.

Kennedy was not asked to enter pleas during the hearing at Chelmsford Magistrates Court and spoke only to give his name, age, address and to state his nationality as British.

UK Police said late Monday another man had been arrested in east London "on suspicion of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration". The 36-year-old suspect was being questioned in custody.

All of the 39 migrants found in the refrigerated container on October 23 on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex in the south of England, are Vietnamese citizens.

They had permanent residences in Hai Phong, Hai Duong, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Thua Thien-Hue.

The incident has laid bare the dangers of illegal migration in Britain, where Vietnamese nationals have often found work in nail bars or illegal cannabis farms./.

VNF/AFP