Northern Ireland

Essex lorry deaths: Accused driver 'can be extradited'

Eamonn Harrison
Image caption Mr Harrison was arrested at Dublin Port after returning from France and Belgium.

There is nothing to stop the extradition of a County Down lorry driver to the UK from Ireland, the High Court in Dublin has ruled.

Eamonn Harrison, from Mayobridge, is wanted for the deaths of 39 people in a refrigerated container in Essex last October.

He faces 39 manslaughter charges and two charges of conspiracy.

Despite the decision, Mr Justice Donald Binchy delayed ordering the extradition until 4 February.

Lawyers for Mr Harrison indicated they may appeal once they see the details of the ruling.

Contesting charges

The bodies of the 39 people were found in a refrigerated container in October 2019.

His conspiracy charges are connected to human trafficking and assisting unlawful immigration.

The manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Mr Harrison was arrested at Dublin Port after returning from France and Belgium.

A previous court hearing heard he had driven the container in which the 39 people were found to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before it was transported to England.

His lawyers, who opposed extradition, argued there was no evidence the 39 died in the UK.

Rushed warrant

The Dublin High Court was also told at a previous hearing that the UK's extradition warrant was too rushed.

Mr Harrison was wrongly described as a British rather than an Irish citizen, it was alleged.

Lawyers seeking his extradition told the court that he drove the lorry used to deliver a container to the port of Zeebrugge and was identified as doing so in Belgium by CCTV footage.

The court also heard that he signed the shipping notice for the container which was later found with the 39 bodies inside.

Lawyers for Eamonn Harrison raised the question as to why if his alleged offences occurred in Belgium the UK was seeking his extradition.