Essex lorry deaths: Eamonn Harrison granted extradition appeal

An Irish lorry driver wanted over his alleged role in the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry in October has been granted an appeal against his extradition to the UK. A Dublin High Court judge accepted arguments by Eamonn Harrison’s lawyers there were “manifest errors” over the issuing of a European Arrest Warrant. Eight women and 31 men were found in the container on 23 October in Essex.

Police say they died of lack of oxygen and overheating in an enclosed space. The youngest person to die in the container was 15. Last month a judge ruled there was nothing to preclude the extradition of Eamonn Harrison from Ireland to the UK.

The manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Two more arrests

Mr Harrison, 23, from Mayobridge, County Down, is alleged to have driven the trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before it sailed to Purfleet in England.

He faces 39 charges of manslaughter as well as charges for conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. He was arrested at Dublin Port on 26 October after returning from France and Belgium. His solicitors have opposed his extradition on the grounds there is no evidence the 39 died in the UK, or for the cause of their deaths.

They have also said there were questions about the admissibility of documentation. Lawyers for the state replied there was no uncertainty in the law and the points raised did not constitute a point of exceptional public importance.

Lorry driver Maurice Robinson has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter. Robinson, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, admitted conspiring to assist illegal immigration and acquiring criminal property at the Old Bailey in November.

He has not yet entered pleas to the manslaughter counts or conspiracy to commit human trafficking and transferring criminal property. His co-accused, Christopher Kennedy, 23, from Darkley, County Armagh, denied conspiracy to commit human trafficking offences[1], assisting unlawful immigration and arranging to facilitate the travel of other people with a view to exploitation. Two more people were arrested at the weekend, bringing the total number of people arrested in connection with the deaths to seven.

A 22-year-old man was arrested in Northern Ireland on Sunday on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating unlawful immigration. He was released on bail on Wednesday until 9 March. Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills, Essex, was detained at Frankfurt Airport on 29 January, Essex Police said.

He was subject of a European Arrest Warrant and appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Saturday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. He will next appear at the Old Bailey on 16 March. Detectives want to hear from anyone who has knowledge of two similar journeys that haulage vehicles made into Purfleet on 11 and 18 October 2019.

Police believe lorries were used to facilitate the unlawful entry of people into the country via the port.

References

  1. ^ denied conspiracy to commit human trafficking offences (www.bbc.co.uk)

You may also like...