HAULIER FACING EXTRADITION TO UK ON MIGRANT DEATH CHARGE REFUSED BAIL

8 May 2020 No Comments by The Northern Standard

A 40-year-old haulier wanted in the UK to face charges in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in England last October has been refused bail by the High Court and remanded in custody. Ronan Hughes, from Leitrim, Silverstream, Tyholland in Co Monaghan, is facing 39 charges of manslaughter and a charge of assisting unlawful immigration.

Mr Justice Paul Burns said in the High Court on Thursday last that he was satisfied that the State had met the burden of proof in this case and there was a “real and serious risk” that, if granted bail, Mr Hughes would abscond. The Judge remanded Mr Hughes in custody until 15 May. Mr Justice Burns said the details in the European Arrest Warrant issued by the UK authorities seeking the extradition of Mr Hughes alleged that he had a “controlling role” in the smuggling of migrants which resulted in the tragic deaths of 39 Vietnamese people last October. The 31 men and eight women were found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex after they were smuggled in on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

The victims included two 15- year-old boys. Their deaths, the Judge said, resulted in widespread public revulsion, anger and outrage at the group involved. He said Mr Hughes was facing serious charges in the UK, 39 counts of manslaughter and one of facilitating illegal immigration and if convicted, a maximum sentence of life in prison. There was therefore a greater incentive to abscond. Mr Justice Burns also pointed out that while Mr Hughes lived in Co Monaghan and helped care for his ill father, he also had significant dealings outside the jurisdiction, extensive contacts abroad, a business registered in Bulgaria and extensive knowledge of international ports.

It was, he said, difficult to disagree with Detective Sergeant Jim Kirwan that Mr Hughes was someone who had the knowledge to flee through a port without anyone knowing. The Judge also said Mr Hughes had access to considerable funds. He had a house with no mortgage and bought a new BMW for €108,000 and could afford monthly repayments of over €1,000. In spite of his ties in the Republic, the Judge said, Mr Hughes had a Northern Ireland drivers licence at an address in Armagh where he said he did not reside and would have had to provide the Northern Ireland authorities with false information for that licence. There is no explanation for this,” the Judge stated.

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