Man sought over 39 migrant lorry deaths has spoken to police by phone

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A suspect wanted over the deaths of 39 migrants found in the back of a lorry in Essex has spoken to police by telephone.

Detectives have urged Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, from Armagh in Northern Ireland, to hand themselves in.

The pair are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking after the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailer attached to a lorry in an industrial park in Grays in the early hours of Wednesday October 23.

Reports suggested that Ronan Hughes phoned police moments after lorry driver Mo Robinson, 25, was arrested following the discovery.

He is understood to have spoken to both the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Essex Police.

Essex Police Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten told reporters at a press conference in Northern Ireland on Friday: “Today I want to make a direct appeal – Ronan and Christopher, hand yourselves in to the PSNI.

“We need you both to come forward and assist this investigation. Although we have already spoken to Ronan Hughes recently by telephone, we need to have a conversation with him and his brother in person.

“Talking to Ronan and Christopher is crucial to our investigation and the sooner we can make this happen the sooner we can progress and continue with our investigation.”

The detective said a lorry believed to be connected to the brothers was stopped and seized by the PSNI on Thursday, but no further arrests were made.

They are said to have links to Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, as well as with the road haulage and shipping industries.

Mo Robinson in court
Court artist sketch of Mo Robinson (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Three other people arrested in connection with the incident – two men aged 38 and 46 and a 38-year-old woman – have been released on bail.

The discovery has sparked a huge international investigation to try to identify the victims.

Essex Police initially believed the 39 were all Chinese nationals, but Vietnamese men and women are feared to be among the dead.

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