Essex lorry deaths: Maurice Robinson in court on manslaughter chargesjessie tan
A driver accused of the manslaughter of 39 people found dead in a lorry was part of a “global ring” of people smugglers, prosecutors have alleged.
Maurice Robinson, from Craigavon, was remanded in custody at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.
The 39 bodies were found in the lorry trailer on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, on Wednesday.
Writing in a book of condolence, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the world had been “shocked by this tragedy”.
Mr Robinson, of Laurel Drive, appeared via video-link and is charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.
Prosecutor Ogheneruona Iguyovwe described the conspiracy charges as “a global ring” involving “the movement of a large number of illegal immigrants into the UK”.
Mr Robinson was not asked to indicate pleas and will next appear at the Old Bailey on 25 November.
DNA tests are being carried out in Vietnam to help to identify the victims.
The prime minister was joined at Thurrock Council’s offices by Home Secretary Priti Patel and members of the emergency services.
Writing in the book of condolence, Mr Johnson 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.”