A truck driver accused over the deaths of 39 migrants has pleaded guilty to plotting to assist illegal immigration and acquiring criminal property.
Maurice “Mo” Robinson, 25, who was allegedly part of a global smuggling ring, also faces 39 charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. He has yet to enter a plea in respect of those charges, and is due back in court on December 13.
The bodies of eight females and 31 males were discovered in the trailer attached to his Scania cab in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, early on October 23.
The victims were later identified as coming from various provinces of Vietnam with the youngest being two boys aged 15.
Robinson, who is known as Mo, faces 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between December 1, 2018, and October 24, 2019.
He is also charged with acquiring criminal property – namely cash – and one count of concealing criminal property between the same dates.
The defendant, of Laurel Drive in Craigavon in Northern Ireland, appeared via video link from custody before Mr Justice Edis at the Old Bailey.
Christopher Kennedy, 23, is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday accused of human trafficking offences.
The details of that charge state that he “arranged or facilitated the travel of other persons into the UK with a view to their being exploited”.
He was arrested in the early hours of Friday morning on the M40.
Kennedy, from Darkley, Co Armagh, is 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 UK immigration law.