Friday, June 14, 2024

Grays lorry deaths: Alleged ‘ringleader’ Ronan Hughes denied bail in Ireland

Ronan Hughes is being sought by Essex Police
Ronan Hughes is being sought by Essex Police

A MAN whose extradition is being sought by Essex Police over the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese nationals has been refused bail at Dublin’s High Court, as reports the BBC.

Ronan Hughes, 40, of Leitrim, Silverstream, Tyholland, County Monaghan, was deemed a flight risk.

He observed proceedings by video link from Cloverhill Prison in Dublin.

The bodies of the 39 people were found in a lorry trailer in Grays last October after it arrived at Purfleet from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

Denying Mr Hughes bail, Mr Justice Paul Burns said that if bail was granted there would be a real risk of him absconding.

The bodies were discovered in the lorry in the early hours of 23 October 2019
The bodies were discovered in the lorry in the early hours of 23 October 2019

Earlier this month Maurice Robinson, 25, from Craigavon, County Armagh, pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter at the Old Bailey. He will be sentenced at a later date.

On Wednesday, objecting to bail, Garda (Irish police) Sgt Jim Kirwan told the court that Robinson has told British police that he received £25,000 from Mr Hughes for his involvement in the people smuggling.

Sgt Kirwan described Mr Hughes as the ring-leader and organiser of the criminal enterprise for financial gain.

The father-of-two estimated his haulage business had a turnover of between €500,000 (£433,000) and €600,000 (£520,000), but said his business was not very profitable.

The judge said he found Mr Hughes’ claim of a lack of awareness of his financial affairs unconvincing. A further hearing will be held in Dublin on 7 May.

In November, as well as the manslaughter admissions, Robinson pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

Four other men will stand trial at the Old Bailey in connection with the investigation.

Another man, 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison, from Mayobridge, County Down, Northern Ireland, is appealing against his extradition from the Republic of Ireland to the UK to face charges related to the Essex lorry discovery.


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