U.K. Truck Driver Admits Illegal Immigration Plot After 39 Migrant Deaths

U.K. Truck Driver Admits Illegal Immigration Plot After 39 Migrant Deaths

Maurice Robinson, 25, who was allegedly part of a global smuggling ring, is charged with the manslaughter of a group of men, women and children found dead in a refrigerated trailer.

The defendant, of Craigavon, Co Armagh in Northern Ireland, was not asked to enter pleas to other charges, including 39 counts of manslaughter.

Still, the guilty plea marks a step forward in a case that has unsettled the U.K.in the weeks since the refrigerated container was found abandoned in the port town of Grays, in the county of Essex.

Maurice Robinson, 25, appeared via video link at London's Central Criminal Court from the high-security Belmarsh prison, south east London, and pleaded guilty to two of the 43 charges levelled against him.

Prosecutors allege that Robinson drove the cab of the truck to Purfleet, England, where he picked up the container, which had arrived by ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Robinson admitted to having conspired with others between May 1, 2018 and October 24 this year to commit an offence of assisting unlawful immigration as well as acquiring cash which he knew or suspected came from criminal conduct.

All of the victims came from Vietnam with the youngest just 15 years old.

The charge states that he plotted with others to do "an act or series of acts which facilitated the commission of a breach of immigration law by various persons".

Robinson also admitted acquiring criminal property between May a year ago and October 2019, but was not asked to enter pleas to other charges.

No trial date was set and Robinson is next due in court on December 13.

Another man from Northern Ireland, 23-year-old Christopher Kennedy, appeared at a separate hearing on Monday, charged with conspiring to arrange the travel of people with a view to their exploitation, and conspiracy to break immigration laws. Essex Police have also urged brothers Ronan Hughes, 40, and Christopher Hughes, 34, to hand themselves in.

A third man from Northern Ireland was charged earlier this month in relation to the deaths of the Vietnamese migrants.

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