Northern Ireland

Essex lorry deaths: High court to rule on Eamonn Harrison appeal bid

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

The High Court in Dublin is to rule next week on whether to allow a County Down lorry driver's appeal against his extradition.

Last month a judge ruled there was nothing to preclude the extradition of Eamonn Harrison from Ireland to the UK.

The Mayobridge man is facing charges in connection with the deaths of 39 people found in a refrigerated container in Essex in October.

The 23-year-old faces 39 manslaughter charges and two of conspiracy.

'Admissibility of documentation'

Lawyers for Mr Harrison argued against extradition, saying no higher court had looked at some of the legal issues they were raising.

They also said there were questions about the admissibility of documentation.

But 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.

Mr Harrison was further remanded in custody and the ruling is to be made on 12 February.

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

The manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

'Rushed warrant'

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

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

His lawyers, who opposed extradition, argued there was no evidence the 39 died in the UK or for the cause of their deaths.

The High Court also heard 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.

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 Mr Harrison raised the question as to why if his alleged offences occurred in Belgium, the UK was seeking his extradition.