Essex lorry deaths: Ronan Hughes to be extradited to UK

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Ronan HughesImage source, Essex Police
Image caption,
Ronan Hughes is being sought by Essex police

Ireland's High Court has ordered the extradition of a man sought by Essex Police over the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese nationals.

Ronan Hughes, of Leitrim, Silverstream, Tyholland, County Monaghan, will be sent to the UK within 10 days from 15 June, when the order comes into effect.

Separately, an extradition appeal by lorry driver Eamonn Harrison was rejected by Ireland's Court of Appeal.

Mr Harrison, from Mayobridge, County Down, also faces manslaughter charges.

The charges followed the discovery of 39 bodies in a lorry trailer in Grays last October.

It had landed at Purfleet in Essex from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

Mr Hughes, who was also wanted over an immigration offence, was in court in Dublin for Friday's extradition proceedings.

The High Court heard he wants to be surrendered as soon as possible to the UK authorities.

Mr Justice Burns remanded him in custody for 15 days.

The manslaughter charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration carries a maximum penalty of 14 years behind bars.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The bodies were discovered in the lorry in the early hours of 23 October 2019

In his judgment, Mr Justice Paul Burns said he was satisfied that the alleged offences were committed in the UK's territorial waters.

At an earlier hearing, Mr Hughes estimated his haulage business had a turnover of between €500,000 (£484,000) and €600,000 (£538,000) but said his business was not very profitable.

The judge said he found unconvincing Mr Hughes' claim of a lack of awareness of his financial affairs.

Image caption,
Pham Thi Tra My, 26, and Nguyen Dinh Luong, 20, were among the victims

He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

Four other men will stand trial at the Old Bailey in connection with this investigation on 5 October.

On Friday, the Court of Appeal in Dublin delivered an electronic judgement, dismissing Eamonn Harrison's appeal against his extradition to the UK.

Image caption,
Eamonn Harrison was arrested at Dublin Port on 26 October

It has been previously alleged that Mr Harrison drove the trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before it sailed to Purfleet in England.

He faces 39 charges of manslaughter as well as conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

The Court of Appeal's judgement states Mr Harrison has now five days to indicate if he wishes to lodge a further appeal with Ireland's Supreme Court.