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Police investigating deaths of 39 Essex lorry victims seeking to track brothers from Armagh

Ronan and Christopher Hughes are believed to have links in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Ronan Hughes (left) and Christopher Hughes (right)
Ronan Hughes (left) and Christopher Hughes (right)
Image: Essex Police

ESSEX POLICE HAS released details of two brothers it wants to speak to as part of its investigation into the deaths of 39 people whose bodies were found last week.

Armagh natives Ronan – also called Rowan – Hughes (40) and Christopher (34) Hughes are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.

“Finding and speaking to the Hughes brothers is crucial to our investigation,” detective superintendent Stuart Hooper said. 

“At this time we believe they are in Northern Ireland but they also have links to the Irish republic.”

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in the refrigerated trailer of a lorry on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, in the early hours last Wednesday.

The lorry driver, 25-year-old Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson, from Northern Ireland, appeared in court yesterday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

A court heard yesterday that Robinson is part of a “global ring” involved in smuggling large numbers of people into the UK.

Three others – a 38-year-old man, a 38-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man – have all been released on bail until next month.

In his appeal for information on the Hughes brothers, detective superintendent Hooper added: “If you know where they are or have any information about their whereabouts I need you to call my team. This is a case where 39 men and women have tragically died and support from the community is going to be vital to help bring those responsible to justice.”

In a statement this afternoon, gardaí confirmed they are still working with Essex Police and other colleagues.

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They have urged anyone with information to contact An Garda Síochána at the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, Essex Police on 0044 207 158 0010, the anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0044 800 555 111 or online at https://mipp.police.uk.

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Sean Murray

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