Lorry driver Maurice Robinson has admitted being responsible for the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants who were found in the back of his lorry.

The 25-year-old, of Craigavon in Northern Ireland, appeared at the Old Bailey today and pleaded guilty 39 counts of manslaughter.

Thurrock Gazette:

Guilty - Mo Robinson 

The lorry driver has previously admitted a number of immigration offences, including plotting with others to do "an act or series of acts which facilitated the commission of a breach of immigration law by various persons".

He also admitted acquiring criminal property - namely cash - and transferring criminal property but has also, today, denied a further charge of transferring criminal property.

The bodies of the Vietnamese nationals were discovered by emergency
services at an industrial estate in Grays shortly after the
lorry arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium in the early hours of
October 23 last year.

Among the men, women and children were ten teenagers, two of whom were aged 15.

In total, five men charged following an investigation by Essex Police appeared for a virtual hearing at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Sweeney.

Robinson appeared at court via video link alongside four other

British Romanian Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills,
denied 39 counts of manslaughter.

He also denied one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
between May 1 2018 and October 24 2019.

Romanian national Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, 27, of Hobart Road in Tilbury,
denied a charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Christopher Kennedy, 23, of Corkley Road in Darkley, Co Armagh, Northern
Ireland, has previously denied conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration

Valentin Calota, 37, of Cossington Road in Birmingham, was not asked to
enter a plea to the charge of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.

Prosecutor William Emlyn Jones QC said a human trafficking conspiracy
charge was being dropped in relation to Kennedy and Robinson.

He asked for three weeks to decide whether to proceed with a trial
against Robinson on the outstanding charge he faced.

The other defendants face a trial at the Old Bailey lasting up to eight
weeks from October 5.

The hearing was conducted virtually with most lawyers and court
reporters attending by Skype.

More to follow