Europe

Essex lorry deaths: Ronan Hughes extradited from Ireland to UK

Ronan Hughes Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Ronan Hughes, a haulier, faces 39 manslaughter charges

A man wanted by UK authorities in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people found dead in a lorry in Essex has been extradited from the Republic of Ireland.

Ronan Hughes faces 39 manslaughter charges and one charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

The 40-year-old father-of-two is from Leitrim in Tyholland, County Monaghan.

Dublin's High Court heard him described as the ringleader and organiser of the criminal enterprise for financial gain.

The bodies of the 39 Vietnamese citizens were found in a refrigerated lorry trailer in Grays last October after it had landed at Purfleet in Essex from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

The manslaughter charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and the conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration carries a maximum penalty of 14 years behind bars.

At the recent High Court extradition hearing in Dublin, at which the judge ordered his extradition, Mr Hughes indicated that he would not appeal and wanted to be surrendered to the UK authorities as soon as the legal formalities allowed.

Earlier this year, 25-year-old Maurice Robinson from Craigavon, County Armagh in Northern Ireland, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey in London to 39 counts of manslaughter.

Another Northern Ireland man wanted in connection with the Essex discovery could be extradited from Dublin in the near future.

Eamonn Harrison, 22, from Mayobridge in County Down, is alleged to have driven the container in which the 39 bodies were found to Zeebrugge before it sailed on to Essex.

Mr Harrison was arrested at Dublin port last October after returning from the European mainland.

Ireland's Court of Appeal rejected his appeal against his extradition to face 39 manslaughter charges, one of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.