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Essex migrants: Three suspects released on bail as work to identify the 39 victims continues – The Telegraph

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Three people arrested in connection with the deaths of 39 people found in a lorry trailer in Grays, Essex, have been released on bail.

Essex Police said a man and woman, both 38, from Warrington, were arrested in Cheshire on Friday and a 46-year-old man from Northern Ireland was arrested at Stansted Airport later the same day.

All three had been questioned on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.

On Sunday police said the man and woman from Warrington, named locally as haulage boss Thomas Maher and his wife Joanna, were released on bail until November 11.

The Northern Ireland man has been bailed until November 13.

It comes as officers investigate whether the container in which 39 migrants were found frozen to death in Essex was part of a convoy of three lorries.

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Relatives of the suspected victims said they believed as many as 100 migrants were being brought from Vietnam to the UK on the lorries.

On Saturday Maurice Robinson, 25, a lorry driver, was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter over the deaths of the 39 people found in a trailer driven to Grays, in Essex.

Reports suggest two of the three vehicles in the convoy completed their trips, but the third was found at the Waterglade Retail Park in Grays on Wednesday.

Essex Police has said that one of their lines of inquiry was whether the lorry bringing in the 39 was part of a “wider conspiracy” intended to traffick more people into the country.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore said: “There are lines of inquiry that are set of course to establish whether or not there are wider conspiracies involved in this and the lines of inquiry are set to identify the wider conspiracy, but I can say no more than that.”. 

Robinson, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, was arrested shortly after the lorry was discovered. 

He is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Irish Gardai made a fifth arrest yesterday, holding a 23-year-old lorry driver from Northern Ireland wanted by Essex Police as he drove off a ferry at Dublin docks.

The driver’s blue Scania truck was impounded.

Reports that more migrants had attempted to make the crossing to Britain, along with those found dead, were first made by relatives in Vietnam on hearing of the fatalities.

Father Anthony Dang Huu Nam, a Catholic priest from Vietnam’s Nghe An province – where many of the 39 dead originate – said he was aware of more than 100 people who were travelling to “a new life”.

He said: “A few families confirmed the deaths of their relatives who are the victims of this tragic journey.”

The eventual destinations of the two other containers is not known.

But the brother-in-law of one of those feared dead, 37-year-old Bùi Văn Thắng, said: “He could be one of the unlucky 39 people dying in the container, as there are three lorries and two escaped. Our whole family are very worried.”

Officers have said they will take no action against illegal migrants who come forward with any information about the 39 deaths and the wider plot to smuggle them into the country.

DCI Martin Pasmore said: “If you come in to us we will do everything we can to put our arm around you, take you through this process, identify as quickly as possible to see whether or not we do indeed have one of your loved-ones involved in this tragic incident.”

Detectives are continuing to question four people previously arrested over the deaths of the 39 migrants whose bodies were found inside the lorry at Waterside Industrial Park.

A 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland was detained at Stansted Airport on Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter, Essex Police said.

Officers had earlier arrested the Mahers on suspicion of 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. Police with sniffer dogs continued to search the couple’s home on Saturday.

The Vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, has ordered an urgent investigation into the deaths and urged the country’s foreign ministry to work with Britain in confirming the identity of victims.

The foreign ministry said in a statement that it had instructed its London embassy to assist British police with the identification process.

Police in Belgium continue to hunt for the driver who delivered the container unit to Zeebrugge, the port it left before arriving in the UK, at around 4.30pm last Tuesday.

A spokesman from the Belgian prosecutor’s office said the Belgian authorities were also working to “track the route of the container” and find anyone responsible for “collaborating with the transport”.

“We would like people to be arrested as soon as possible,” he added.

Additional reporting by Giap Trong

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