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Lorry driver Maurice Robinson has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 39 people who were discovered dead in a refrigerated lorry in Essex on October 23 2019.
25-year-old Robinson, from Craigavon in Northern Ireland, entered his plea at the Old Bailey today. He has previously admitted plotting to assist illegal immigration.
The charges faced by Robinson relate to the deaths of 39 people who were found in the back of a refrigerated lorry in Grays last year.
Robinson, who goes by the name 'Mo', has been charged - alongside the manslaughter and plot offences - with acquiring criminal property and concealing criminal property.
He is alleged to have been a part of a global criminal smuggling ring involved in the trafficking of people into the United Kingdom.
Robinson picked the trailer containing the victims at 12:30AM at Purfleet in Essex on October 23 2019, before driving out of the port at 1:05AM that same morning.
The 31 men and eight women - including several aged as young as 15 - were mostly Vietnamese and were discovered in the climate controlled lorry with Robinson's Scania cab, which he'd named 'The Polar Express' attached to it.
The trailer arrived from Zeebrugge, Belgium. At the time, it was reported that the victims had been dead inside the lorry for at least 12 hours before they were discovered by the police some 35 minutes after the trailer was stopped.
Essex Police later confirmed the names of all of the victims, and 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.
"We have worked closely with the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Vietnamese Authorities to identify and locate their families."
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