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Essex lorry deaths: Police make direct appeal for two wanted Armagh brothers to come forward

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

Image: Essex Police

ESSEX POLICE HAVE made a direct appeal to 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.

The brothers are believed to have links in Northern Ireland and the Republic, as well as the road haulage and shipping industries.

Speaking in Belfast today, Essex Police Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten called on the brothers to hand themselves in to the PSNI. 

“Ronan and Christopher, hand yourself into police. We need you both to come forward and assist this investigation,” Stoten said. 

Stoten added that although they have spoken to Ronan Hughes over the phone recently, police need to have a conversation with him and his brother in person. 

“Talking to them is crucial to this investigation,” Stoten said. 

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 on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

A court heard 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.

Speaking this morning, Stoten said that the PSNI, acting upon information provided to them, stopped a lorry believed to be connected to the two Hughes brothers. The vehicle was seized and no further arrests were made. 

Stoten said today that “it is essential” that police follow all lines of enquiries to bring those responsible to justice. 

He added that Essex Police will continue to work with the PSNI and gardaí until the Hughes brothers come forward or are arrested. 

He urged anyone with information in relation to the Hughes brothers to contact the PSNI on 101 or online at https://mipp.police.uk

Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0044 800 555 111. 

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