Judge in Grays lorry deaths extradition ‘misinterpreted European arrest warrant’

Grays 39

A HIGH Court judge who ordered the extradition of a lorry driver wanted in connection with the deaths of 39 people in a container in Essex misinterpreted the European Arrest Warrant framework, a court has heard.

Eamonn Harrison, 22, from Mayobridge in Co Down, Northern Ireland, is appealing against extradition from the Republic of Ireland to the UK to face charges.

He is wanted on 39 counts of manslaughter as well as charges of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and conspiracy to commit human trafficking under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act.

It is alleged that he had a role in transporting the trailer in which the bodies of eight Vietnamese women and 31 males – including two 15-year-old boys – were found in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, on October 23 last year.

He is alleged to have delivered the trailer to a Belgian port before it travelled to Britain, where it was collected from the Port of Purfleet, Essex, by Maurice Robinson, 25, from Craigavon, Co Armagh.

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

Harrison was arrested in Ireland last year on a European Arrest Warrant by detectives from the Irish police’s extradition unit, and is fighting his proposed extradition to the UK through the Irish High Court.

The High Court sought further information from UK authorities last year in relation to a number of alleged factual matters in the warrant.

His lawyers have objected to his extradition saying the original European Arrest Warrant was fundamentally defective in terms of a lack of information in relation to the allegations he faces.

Counsel for Mr Harrison, Siobhan Stack, told the court it is not alleged that he placed the migrants in the trailer or that he knew they were there, but it is alleged that he delivered the trailer to a port in Belgium before its journey to the UK.

Ms Stack said the High Court judge who ordered his extradition misinterpreted the European Arrest Warrant framework in terms of its mandatory requirements.

Mr Justice Donald Binchy ordered Harrison’s extradition to the UK in January.

Harrison has already appeared in court in Dublin and was granted leave to appeal against extradition.

He listened to the case by video link from his prison cell. He wore a black T-shirt, grey tracksuit bottoms and glasses.

The hearing continues this afternoon.

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