Essex Police photo of Ronan Hughes

Man Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter, Trafficking 39 Victims

A man entered a guilty plea on August 28 as part of an ongoing investigation into the deaths of 39 trafficked Vietnamese nationals. The victims were discovered last October in a truck trailer in Grays, Essex, U.K.

Ronan Hughes pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of those found in the trailer. Hughes, 40, of Tyholland in County Monaghan, also pleaded guilty to one count of facilitating the illegal entry of people into the U.K.

Another man, 42-year-old Gazmir Nuzi of Tottenham, London, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Chief Constable for Essex Police, Ben-Julian Harrington, acknowledged that the result was a step in the right direction for the ongoing investigation: “Last October, just a few days after the tragedy, I wrote in the book of condolence that we would do everything in our power to bring to justice those who were responsible for their horrific journey, which ended on our shores. We are still working hard to keep that promise to the families and our thoughts are with them following today’s pleas.”

Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten, the Senior Investigating Officer for the case, said: “Echoing the Chief’s sentiments, my thoughts today are with the loved ones of the victims.

“Since the tragic discovery in the early hours of October 23, some 1,300 people have worked together to try and ascertain what happened in that trailer, and the events leading up to the tragedy. These guilty pleas are welcomed, and I hope they offer some solace to the families of the victims. A lot of dedication and hard work has gone into this case, and there’s still a way to go, but we will not give up.”

In April this year, 25-year-old Maurice Robinson pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter at the same court. The Craigavon man has previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

In June, 28-year-old Alexandru Hanga, of Tilbury, Essex, pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. They will all be sentenced at a later date.

Four men will await a trial at the Old Bailey court this October in connection with the Essex Police investigation:

Eamonn Harrison, a 23-year-old truck driver from Mayobridge in Northern Ireland, and 43-year-old Gheorghe Nica of Langdon Hills, Essex pleaded not guilty on August 28 to 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. Nica also pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic people.

Christopher Kennedy, 23, of Darkley, County Armagh, has been charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of people with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of U.K. immigration law.

They will be joined by Valentin Calota, 37, of Birmingham, who has been charged with conspiring to carry out an act to facilitate the commission of a breach of U.K. immigration law by a non-EU person.

The trial will begin on October 5.

Read the statement at Essex Police

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