A man has pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter at the Old Bailey today.
Maurice Robinson appeared virtually this afternoon, Wednesday 8 April, in connection with our investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals in October last year.
The 25-year-old, from Craigavon in Northern Ireland, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property at the same court on Monday 25 November.
Sentencing will take place at a later date.
The lorry driver has an outstanding charge of transferring criminal property to answer.
A 23-year-old from Northern Ireland also made a virtual appearance. Christopher Kennedy – of Corkley Road in Darkley, County Armagh – has been charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of people with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law.
Two others marked their first Crown Court appearance today and pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills, was the subject of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and was arrested in Frankfurt Airport on Wednesday 29 January. He has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, 27, of Hobart Road in Tilbury is charged with conspiring to do an act to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person.
We have also charged 37-year-old Valentin Calota of Cossingham Road in Birmingham with conspiring to do an act to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person. He was not asked to enter a plea today.
The trial will begin on Monday 5 October this year.
Eamonn Harrison, 22, of Mayobridge, Northern Ireland, has been granted leave to appeal his extradition to the UK under the terms of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the force and the Crown Prosecution Service. The EAW meant he faced 39 charges of manslaughter, and a charge of conspiracy to traffic people, as well as conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. A further hearing will be held in Dublin on Thursday 7 May.
We continue to work closely with colleagues from the Crown Prosecution Service, and numerous international law enforcement agencies which include the National Crime Agency, and government offices in both the UK and Vietnam.