A haulier has today admitted the manslaughter of 39 migrants who were found dead in the back of a lorry container.
The bodies of the Vietnamese nationals were discovered in the container at an Essex industrial estate on October 23 last year, during an attempt to smuggle them into the UK.
The victims, including ten teenagers, had been brought into the country on a ferry that arrived in Purfleet that day, and died of a lack of oxygen and overheating.
At the Old Bailey this afternoon, haulier Ronan Hughes, 40, from Co Armargh in Northern Ireland, pleaded guilty to 39 charges of manslaughter as well as a charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
A second defendant, Eamonn Harrison, 23, of Mayobridge, Co Down, Northern Ireland, today denied the manslaughter charges as well as involvement in the people smuggling plot.
In April, Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson, 25, also admitted the 39 manslaughter charges, involvement in people smuggling, and a charge of acquiring criminal property, while denying a second money laundering count.
Robinson, from Craigavon in Northern Ireland, was the driver of the lorry in Britain who discovered the bodies after transporting the container from Purfleet to an alleged pick-up point in Grays, Essex.
Harrison is said to have been the driver who took the lorry trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before it sailed to England.
Both he and Hughes were extradited to the UK from Ireland to face the charges.
Also this afternoon, Gazmir Nuzi, 42, from Tottenham, admitted being part of a previous people-smuggling operation, having met a lorry and picked up his nephew who was inside.
Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Langdon Hills, Basildon, Essex, who has already denied 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration is due to appear in court later this afternoon, as well as Valentin Calota, 37, of Birmingham and Christopher Kennedy, 23, of Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, who denied being part of a people-smuggling operation.