Ronan Hughes denied bail over Essex lorry deaths

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South Armagh man paid driver to smuggle 39 Vietnamese workers into Britain, court hears

A South Armagh man paid £25,000 to a haulage driver to smuggle 39 Vietnamese workers into Britain who were later found dead in a lorry trailer, a court was told on Thursday.

Ronan Hughes faces extradition from the Irish Republic to the UK where he will be charged with manslaughter over the deaths of the migrants last autumn.

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World news | The Guardian

A South Armagh man paid £25,000 to a haulage driver to smuggle 39 Vietnamese workers into Britain who were later found dead in a lorry trailer, a court was told on Thursday.

Ronan Hughes faces extradition from the Irish Republic to the UK where he will be charged with manslaughter over the deaths of the migrants last autumn.

An Irish police officer described Hughes as the “ringleader” and organiser of the people smuggling plot.

At a bail hearing in Dublin a Garda Siochana sergeant said that the only man so far to plead guilty over his role in the 39 deaths, Maurice Robinson, had told British police that Hughes paid him the sum to bring the workers illegally from Belgium to England.

The bodies of the 39 people were found in a lorry trailer at Grays last October after it arrived at Purfleet from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

Among the dead were men, women and teenagers, two of whom were 15-year-old boys.

Dublin high vourt judge Mr Justice Paul Burns denied Hughes bail deeming him to be a flight risk.

The 40-year old with an address at Leitrim, Silverstream, Tyholland, Co Monaghan in the Irish Republic observed proceedings by video link from Cloverhill prison in Dublin.

Denying Hughes bail, Mr Justice Burns said that if bail was granted there would be a real risk of him absconding.

Garda Sgt Jim Kirwan said Hughes had organised the criminal enterprise for financial gain.

The father-of-two said he estimated his haulage business had a turnover of between £433,000 and £520,000 but then added that his business was not very profitable.

Mr Justice Burns said he found Hughes’s claim of a lack of awareness about his own financial affairs unconvincing. A further extradition hearing will be held in Dublin on 7 May.

At the Old Bailey in April Maurice Robinson admitted the manslaughter charges as well conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

Prosecutors have yet to decide whether or not to proceed with a trial against Robinson over a charge of transferring criminal property. The 25-year-old lorry driver comes from Craigavon in Northern Ireland.

Four other men including Christopher Kennedy from South Armagh will stand trial at the Old Bailey in connection with the investigation.

Another man, 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison, from Mayobridge, Co Down, Northern Ireland, is appealing against his extradition from the Republic of Ireland to the UK to face charges related to the Essex lorry discovery.


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