Essex lorry deaths: Haulier pleads guilty to manslaughter of migrants

A haulier has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Vietnamese migrants found dead inside a lorry container in Essex last October.

Ronan Hughes, 40, of Co Armagh in Northern Ireland, entered his plea at the Old Bailey.

He was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter after the bodies of 39 Vietnamese men, women and children were found suffocated in the trailer of a lorry on an industrial estate in Grays in the early hours of 23 October 2019.

Among those discovered were 10 teenagers, including two 15-year-old boys.

Lorry is surrounded by police and forensic team after discovery of 39 bodies inside it
Image: The lorry was surrounded by police and forensic teams after the discovery

The trailer had arrived earlier at Purfleet docks on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Prosecutors alleged Hughes played a leading role by allowing his trailers and drivers to be used in human trafficking.

He was one of several men accused of being part of a people-smuggling ring linked to the deaths.

An inquest has heard the victims’ medical cause of death was asphyxia (a lack of oxygen) and hyperthermia (overheating) in an enclosed space.


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