01/11/2019

Police Urge Hughes Brothers To Come Forward

The Chief Investigating Officer looking into the deaths of 39 people in a trailer in Essex has urged Armagh brothers Ronan and Christopher Hughes to hand themselves in.

Essex Police travelled to Belfast today to issue the direct appeal. It comes over a week since the mass fatality was discovered in a container in Grays last week.

Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten said finding Ronan, aged 40, and 34 year-old Christopher is crucial to the investigation. The pair are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.

"Today I want to make a direct appeal. Ronan and Christopher hand yourself in to police. We need you both to come forward and assist us with this investigation.

"The sooner we can make this happen, the sooner we can get on with our enquires and bring those responsible for these tragic deaths to justice."

DCI Stoten confirmed they have already spoken to Ronan Hughes directly by phone, but said both brothers are required in person for the investigation to proceed.

The pair are known to have links to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as the road haulage and shipping industries. Anyone who has been in contact with them or knows of their whereabouts is urged to get in contact.

"You may think your information is insignificant but even the smallest detail could be vital," DCI Stoten added.
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The PSNI stopped a vehicle believed to be connected to the pair on Thursday 31 October. It was subsequently seized however no arrests were made.

Also from Co Armagh, 25 year-old Maurice Robinson of Laurel Drive in Craigavon has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering as part of the investigation. Mr Robinson is due to appear at the Old Bailey on 25 November.

Three other people arrested – a 38 year-old man, a 38 year-old woman and a 46 year-old man – have all been released on bail until later this month.

DCI Stoten offered his thanks to the local community and members of the road haulage and shipping industries for the support they have offered so far: "I would like to thank all those from communities in Northern Ireland and Ireland, along with those in the road haulage and shipping industries, who have come forward to share information and knowledge with us. Your help has been invaluable.

"We know that you are as appalled as the rest of the world following the deaths of 39 people, whose bodies were found in a container which travelled from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Grays in Essex last week."

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or online via the UK Police Major Incident Public Reporting Site. Information can also be given 100% anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.



(JG/CM)

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