Truck driver Mo Robinson FaceD court over deaths of 39 people in trailer

A lorry driver has appeared in court charged with the manslaughter of 39 people found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex.

The bodies were found in the container in the early hours of Wednesday on an industrial estate in Grays.

Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson, of Laurel Drive outside Portadown, was remanded in custody at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.

Writing in a book of condolence, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the world had been “shocked by this tragedy”.

Robinson appeared via video-link and was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

He will next appear at the Old Bailey in London on November 25.

DNA tests are being carried out in Vietnam to help to identify the dead.

Mr Johnson was joined at Thurrock Council’s offices by Home Secretary Priti Patel and members of the emergency services.

They also paid their respects to the victims by laying flowers in the nearby Mulberry garden.

Writing in the book of condolence, the prime minister said: “The whole nation, and indeed the world had been shocked by this tragedy and the cruelty of the fate that has been suffered by innocent people who were hoping for a better life in this country.

“In condemning the callousness of those responsible for this crime, we in the government of the United Kingdom resolve to do everything in our power to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Three other people arrested in connection with the deaths were released on bail on Sunday.

Robinson regularly posts photos of the Bulgarian-registered truck online but it is not thought that he owns the vehicle

A man in his 20s, who was arrested by Irish police in Dublin on Saturday, was said to be “of interest” to the Grays investigation.

His arrest at Dublin Port is unconnected to the lorry death investigation but Essex Police said they were liaising with Irish police, as the man “is currently held outside the jurisdiction of the law of England and Wales”.

Detectives in Essex are now working on the largest mass fatality victim identification process in the force’s history.

Initially, police said the 31 men and eight women were Chinese but a number of Vietnamese families have described how they fear their loved ones are among the dead.

Some of the victims are said to have paid thousands of pounds to guarantee their safe passage to the UK, from where they would be able to carry out work that would give them money to send home.

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