The lorry driver accused of manslaughter after dozens of bodies were found in a refrigerated trailer in Essex has appeared in court via a video link.
Maurice “Mo” Robinson was charged on Saturday with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people between 1 December 2018 and 24 October 2019, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration in the same timeframe, and money laundering.
The 25-year-old was further charged with acquiring criminal property and concealing criminal property between those dates.
Robinson, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland, was presented via a video link from custody for Monday’s hearing at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court and made no application for bail.
He was remanded in custody until 25 November when he will appear at the Old Bailey for a further hearing.
The lorry driver was arrested shortly after police were called to the Waterglade Retail Park in Grays in the early hours of Wednesday after 39 bodies were discovered in a refrigerated trailer.
Three other people have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people, and have been released on bail, Essex Police said on Sunday.
They include a man, 38, and a woman, 36, from Warrington, Cheshire, who were arrested on Friday, and a 46-year-old Northern Irish man who was arrested at Stansted Airport on the same day.
Essex Police confirmed another man arrested in Dublin by Irish police over an unconnected matter on Saturday “is a person of interest” in their investigation/ The force said it was liaising with the officers as the man is outside England and Wales’ jurisdiction.
Detectives are now trying to identify the 31 men and eight women discovered in the trailer in the largest identification process in Essex Police history.
The lorry was moved to Tilbury Docks after the initial discovery and the bodies have now been moved to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, where post-mortems will be carried out.
Victims will be identified, where possible, with dental records, fingerprints and DNA, followed by other means such as tattoos and scars, supported by jewellery, clothing or property.
Police revealed each victim appeared to have a bag, clothes and other belongings and they so far have more than 500 items to look at.
They are downloading data from their mobile phones to help identify the victims, and to also assist the investigation.
Police initially said the victims were Chinese, but have now said they will not reveal their nationalities until they have been officially identified.
A number of Vietnamese families have came forward to say they fear some of their loved ones are among the dead.
Some of the victims are said to have paid thousands of pounds to traffickers to guarantee their safe passage to the UK, where they could work and send money home.
The lorry driver accused of manslaughter after 39 bodies were found in a refrigerated trailer has appeared in court via video link. Maurice “Mo” Robinson has been remanded in custody until 25 November where he will appear at the Old Bailey for a further hearing. More follows…