Essex lorry deaths: Haulier Ronan Hughes pleads guilty to manslaughter

40-year-old Ronan Hughes, has admitted to manslaughter and conspiring to assist unlawful immigration after 39 Vietnamese migrants found in a lorry container in Essex, United Kingdom.

Bodies of 29 men, 2 boys, and 8 women were found in a refrigerated trailer on 23 October in Grays.

An inquest has heard the victims’ medical cause of death was asphyxia (a lack of oxygen) and hyperthermia (overheating) in an enclosed space.

Prosecutors alleged Hughes played a leading role by allowing his trailers and drivers to be used in human trafficking, and was one of several men accused of being part of a people-smuggling ring linked to the deaths

A second man, Eamonn Harrison, 23, of Mayobridge, County Down, denied 39 charges of manslaughter. Harrison also pleaded not guilty to conspiring to assist unlawful immigration and faces a trial in October.

Harrison is alleged to have driven the lorry trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before it sailed to Purfleet in England.

Earlier in April, lorry driver Maurice Robinson, 25, from Craigavon in Northern Ireland, also pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter over the deaths.

Robinson also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration of non-EU citizens between May 1 2018 and October 24 2019 and acquiring criminal property, but denied a further charge of transferring criminal property.