Man alleged to have recruited driver of lorry in which 39 migrants found dead remanded in custody

A Monaghan man alleged to have recruited the lorry driver who drove a truck to the UK in which 39 migrants were found dead in Essex last October has been remanded in custody after appearing before the High Court in Dublin.

Ronan Hughes (40), of Leitrim Silverstream, Tyholland, Co Monaghan is wanted by authorities in the United Kingdom to face 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Mr Hughes, who is the owner of a haulage firm, was arrested on Monday evening in Co Monaghan following the endorsement of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by the police in Essex and appeared before Mr Justice Paul Burns in the High Court on Tuesday morning.

The haulier appeared in court wearing a face mask, a navy t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

Detective Sergeant Jim Kirwan of the Garda Extradition Unit told Ronan Kennedy SC, for the State, that he arrested Mr Hughes as part of a planned operation at 5.15pm on Tuesday evening at Leitrim Silverstream, Tyholland, Co Monaghan on foot of the warrant and cautioned him.

Det Sgt Kirwan said Mr Hughes agreed that his name was Ronan Hughes and his place of birth was Co Monaghan. The detective said he showed Mr Hughes a photograph which he agreed was him.

The witness said he also showed Mr Hughes a copy of the original EAW and informed him of his rights.

Detective sergeant Jim Kirwan of the extradition unit leaving court.

Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Outlining the offences facing Mr Hughes, Det Sgt Kirwan said the man faces 39 counts of manslaughter and one charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

When asked if he had anything to say about the summary of the offences contained within the warrant, Mr Hughes said that he did not want to say anything about it, said Det Sgt Kirwan. He was then conveyed to Monaghan Garda Station.

Full hearing

Det Sgt Kirwan said he was satisfied that the person named on the warrant was the person he arrested. He told Mr Kennedy there was an objection to bail.

After Det Sgt Kirwan gave evidence of Mr Hughes' arrest, Mr Justice Burns said he was satisfied the person before him was the person to whom the warrant related.

The judge informed Mr Hughes of his rights and told him he is entitled to voluntarily surrender himself to the UK authorities between now and the hearing date.

The judge fixed May 1st as the date for the full hearing of the extradition case.

He told Mr Kennedy there was a number of matters that he sought additional clarification about including the alleged role of Mr Hughes in the alleged offences.

Conan Fegan BL, who appeared on behalf of the respondent, asked the court if a bail application could be made next week. Mr Justice Burns said Mr Hughes had to give four days notice of a bail application and provisionally fixed April 29th for the hearing. Mr Hughes was remanded in custody until that date.

Eamonn Harrison (22), of Mayobridge, has already appeared in court here and has been granted leave to appeal his pending extradition to the UK in May under the terms of the EAW.

He is wanted to face 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and conspiracy to commit human trafficking under the UK's Modern Slavery Act.

It is alleged that Mr Harrison delivered the trailer, in which the bodies of eight females and 31 males were found in an industrial park in Grays, Esssex on October 23 last, to a Belgian port before its onward journey to Britain. The cargo was recorded as "biscuits".

Earlier this month Maurice Robinson (25), of Craigavon, Co Armagh, who was arrested admitted 39 counts of manslaughter at the Old Bailey. He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

He denied a further charge of transferring criminal property.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

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