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Irishman in his 50s arrested after 15 males found in back of a lorry in Wiltshire

A Cork-based company confirmed their vehicle was seized in the incident.

Image: Shutterstock/Mariusz Galas

Updated Nov 7th 2019, 2:00 PM

AN IRISHMAN HAS been arrested after 15 men and teenage boys were found in the back of a lorry in Wiltshire following reports of “suspicious activity” involving the vehicle.

Cork-based company Sean Delaney and Sons confirmed to TheJournal.ie that its vehicle was seized in the incident.

The 15 people are all believed to be males aged between 16 and 30, Wiltshire Police said, and their nationalities are still unknown. 

14 were deemed fit and well and were taken to custody suites in Melksham and Swindon. One person was taken to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon as a precaution but was later taken to custody.

The Irishman, who is the driver of the vehicle and aged in his 50s, was arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal entry into the country. He also remains in custody for further questioning. 

An Garda Síochána said it is “monitoring the developing investigation by the UK Home Office assisted by Wiltshire Police” and that it will “provide every assistance possible”.

Wiltshire Police said they closed the A350 at the Kington Langley crossroads near Chippenham after being called by a member of the public shortly before 8.30pm on Wednesday.

Duty Superintendent Steve Cox said: “Members of the public would have noticed a large number of emergency services in the vicinity of the A350 last night while we dealt with this incident and the road was closed for approximately four hours while we carried out enquiries at the scene and recovery was arranged for the lorry, which was a hard-sided large goods vehicle.

“We are working closely with partner agencies as we conduct further enquiries – I fully understand that recent tragic events elsewhere in the country will mean there will be increased interest and heightened concern regarding this incident.”

Cox thanked the emergency services for responding to the incident quickly, and to the “vigilant” member of the public who initially reported the incident. 

It is thanks to them that this incident was resolved swiftly and safely with no serious casualties.

It comes after eight people were arrested earlier this week by Vietnamese police in connection with the 39 migrants found dead in a lorry in Essex.

They were held on Sunday on suspicion of organising people smuggling overseas.

The 31 men and eight women who were discovered in the back of the refrigerated truck in Grays in October are thought to have been Vietnamese. So far two people have been charged.

Essex Police have started extradition proceedings to bring 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison from Ireland to the UK.

Harrison, of Newry in Co Down, Northern Ireland, appeared at Dublin High Court last Friday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, along with human trafficking and immigration offences, and was remanded in custody.

The driver of the lorry, Mo Robinson, 25, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Detectives have also urged Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, said to have links with the road haulage and shipping industries, to hand themselves in.

The pair, from Armagh in Northern Ireland, are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.

With reporting from Conor McCrave

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