herald

Sunday 17 November 2019

Irish couple held by police investigating death truck

Police outside the arrested Irish couple's house in Warrington
Police outside the arrested Irish couple's house in Warrington

An Irish couple have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people in connection with the deaths of 39 migrants in a truck container in the UK.

The couple – who are both 38 years old – remained in police custody in Cheshire last night.

Yesterday evening, Essex police announced the arrest of a 48-year-old Northern Irish man at Stansted Airport, London. He was detained on suspicion of trafficking and suspicion of manslaughter.

The arrests are in addition to that of 25-year-old Mo Robinson, the truck driver, from Portadown, Armagh, who last night remained in custody. He was being questioned on suspicion of murder.

The couple, who are believed to be from the midlands, have a number of children together.

The identity of the couple is not being reported in the Herald for legal reasons.

They were arrested at their home in Warrington in England and are understood to have been held on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and on suspicion of 39 counts of manslaughter.

It is understood that the woman was reportedly the last registered owner of the truck but that she may have sold it some time ago.

Police carried out searches of the couple’s home, which was bought for more than €295,000 in March 2017 before they carried out renovations.

The couple are parents to three children – two boys, 18 and 11, and a girl of 15.

The 39 bodies were found in a truck container at an industrial estate in Essex having arrived in Britain about an hour-and-a-half earlier after being shipped from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

An international investigation is taking place to establish how the migrants came to be in the back of the truck and who was responsible for trafficking them to the UK.

It is understood the 38-year-old male has lived in England for a number of years and has no criminal convictions in this country.

His family in Ireland declined to comment on his arrest yesterday evening.

Local people were reluctant to speak about the matter but one man from the area said they were a well known family and he remembered him from before his move to England.

It is understood that he previously worked as a truck driver.

The police investigation into the horrific discovery of the 39 bodies is focusing on criminals based in the Co Armagh area, who also have connections to Co Monaghan.

Movements

Officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) are continuing to assist English police and the PSNI.

It is understood that gardai have spoken to a number of people linked to transport companies but no arrests have been made in this jurisdiction.

Gardai are conducting enquiries in relation to the registrations and movements of the refrigerated container and the Irish-owned truck.

Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills of Essex Police said in a press conference yesterday: “This is a fast-moving investigation involving significant resources.

“I can confirm we have officers working around the clock and we have now arrested a fourth person.

“A 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland was arrested at Stansted Airport earlier today on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and on suspicion of manslaughter.

“It follows the arrests of a 38-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman from Warrington during warrants executed in Cheshire overnight. They are currently in custody also on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and on suspicion of manslaughter.

“A 25-year-old man arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of murder remains in custody.”

It is believed that police have been in contact with six Vietnamese families who fear their relatives are among the victims.

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