UK man pleads guilty to immigration, property offences in truck deaths case

File photo: Police team at the scene where bodies were discovered in a lorry container, in Grays, Essex. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters London, United Kingdom Nov 25, 2019, 04.50 PM (IST)

A Northern Irish man, who is charged with the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese nationals found dead in a truck near London last month, pleaded guilty on Monday to assisting unlawful immigration and to acquiring criminal property.

Appearing by video link from Belmarsh Prison in east London, Maurice Robinson, 25, was not asked to enter a plea to 41 other charges, including 39 counts of manslaughter.

No trial date was set and Robinson is next due in court on December 13.

The victims, 31 men and boys and eight women, were found on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, not far from docks on the River Thames, on Oct. 23. The oldest of the victims was 44 while three were aged under 18.

Another 23-year-old man from Northern Ireland was separately charged on Sunday with charges of conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of people with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law.

He is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court in England on Monday.