Ten teenagers among 39 Essex lorry victims, police reveal

Verity Bowman
Bodies found in lorry container  - PA

Ten teenagers were among the 39 victims found in a lorry in an industrial park in Essex, police have revealed.

Police have released the names of all of the victims, all believed to be Vietnamese nationals, found dead in the refrigerated lorry in the early hours of October 23.

Among the dead were two 15-year-old boys, Dinh Dinh Binh from Hai Phong and Nguyen Huy Hung from Ha Tinh, as well as 26-year-old Pham Thi Tra My who sent a final text message home saying she could not breathe. The oldest victim was 44-years-old.

Senior officer in overall charge of the inquiry, Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, said: "This was an incredibly important process and our team has been working hard to bring answers to worried families who fear their loved one may be among those whose tragic journey ended on our shores.

"Our priority has been to identify the victims, to preserve the dignity of those who have died and to support the victims' friends and families. It remained of paramount importance to us to ensure that an individual's next of kin were informed, and that they were given some time to absorb this tragic news before we publicly confirmed their loved one's identity."

Who's been arrested? Who's been charged? Who's on the run?

Maurice Robinson, 25, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, was arrested after the bodies were found in a refrigerated container at the Waterglade Retail Park in Grays on Oct 23.

Mr Robinson is alleged to have picked up the trailer from the Essex port of Purfleet. It's understood he drove to Essex from Holyhead having crossed the Irish Sea by ferry on the same day.

He has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Eamonn Harrison, 23. was arrested in Dublin Port on October 26 by An Garda Siochana. It is alleged that Mr Harrison was driving the truck that delivered the trailer carrying the 39 migrants to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

That truck has been linked to a company owned by Ronan Hughes.

Mr Hughes and his brother Christopher Hughes have been in hiding since last week when Essex Police said they were persons of interest in connection to the deaths. 

It is understood they are on the run from senior figures of a people smuggling gang as opposed to the police. 

A security source has told The Telegraph that individuals high up in a gang believed to be linked to people smuggling had sought to intercept the Hughes brothers before they handed themselves into the Police Service of Northern Ireland. 

It is not clear if the brothers are involved in any people smuggling gangs themselves, but it is understood they may have information connected to the alleged human trafficking incident which led to the 39 bodies found in a lorry in Essex.

Meanwhile, eight people were arrested by Vietnamese police and were held on Sunday on suspicion of organising people smuggling overseas.