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Co Armagh lorry driver charged with 39 counts of manslaughter

Police have charged a Co Armagh man in connection with the deaths of 39 people whose bodies were found in Grays, Essex on Wednesday.

Maurice Robinson, 25, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, Northern Ireland was arrested shortly after the discovery was made at the Waterglade Retail Park.

He is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday 28 October charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Three other people have been arrested in connection with this investigation.

A 38 year-old man and a 38 year-old woman from Warrington and a 48 year-old man from Northern Ireland, who were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter remain in custody.

All of the 39 people found in the lorry have now been moved from Tilbury Docks to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

The process to identify them and where they are from is continuing. This process works in tandem to the investigative process – as police look to both identify those who have died and identify and preserve any forensic evidence so that they can achieve justice for each of these victims and their loved ones.

This is the largest mass fatality victim identification process in the history of Essex Police.

Every victim a forensic scene. Officers are meticulously processing all the property that was with the victims and in the lorry and every item has an individual record made of it.

There are 39 victims and each appears to have a bag of some description, clothes, and other belongings.

So far police have over 500 exhibits, including mobile phones which have to be downloaded and the interrogation of mobile phones will be important for identifying the victims but also assisting the wider investigation – this needs to be done in forensic way so it will pass the evidential process for court later.

Senior Identification Manager Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore said: “We are working hard to understand how the 39 victims of this tragic incident have died and to identify all those involved.

“We remain open minded as to nationalities of those who have died. We are asking anyone who may have information that may assist us in identification to come forward to us.

“If you come to us, we will do all we can to put our arm around you and take you through this process, and establish as quickly as possible whether or not we have your loved involved in this tragic incident, and try and reunite you.

“It may well be people are here illegally and they want to come forward with information or concerns, particularly if they believe their loved one is involved. We want to identify their loved ones and reunite but they are frightened.

“We understand some people may be frightened but I hope people will put trust in me and make that leap of faith – Essex Police will not look to take any action against you.

“Please make contact with my team by reporting information through our UK Police Major Incident Public Reporting site or contact our dedicated hotline on 0800 056 0944 if you live in the UK and 0044 207 158 0010 if you’re dialling internationally.

“Our thoughts remain with all those so affected by this tragedy.”

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