MASS MURDER: Baby-faced driver held over 39 bodies in truck


British police have launched one of the largest murder investigations in UK history after the bodies of 39 people were discovered in the back of a truck on an industrial estate in Essex, east of London.

Mo Robinson, a 25-year-old Northern Irish truck driver, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Five ambulances were called to the Waterglade Industrial Park at 1.40am local Wednesday local time (11.40am AEDT) where emergency services made the shocking discovery.

Police said 38 of the victims were adults, while one appeared to be a teenager. No further details were given.

Mo Robinson, the suspected driver of the truck in which 39 people were found dead. Picture: Facebook
Mo Robinson, the suspected driver of the truck in which 39 people were found dead. Picture: Facebook

There were reports the dead were asylum seekers who were found in a refrigerated container, raising speculation they froze to death.

It was also claimed they may have been in the truck for more than four days before they were discovered.

Robinson reportedly referred to his truck as the "Polar Express" on social media, according to reports.

The refrigerated container was capable of plunging to temperatures of -25 degrees C, which could have killed those on board quickly if it was turned on.

Mo Robinson is just 25. Picture: Facebook
Mo Robinson is just 25. Picture: Facebook

CCTV showing the truck just moments before it pulled into the industrial estate was released yesterday.

The red and white Scania Super cab unit of the truck is believed to have originated in Ireland. It had "Ireland" emblazoned on the windscreen along with the message "The Ultimate Dream".

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Irish authorities would carry out any investigations necessary if it was established that the truck had passed through Ireland.

Robinson's brother reportedly told BelfastLive the family hadn't heard from him and "don't know what is going on".

A family friend also said they had been "told nothing" by authorities who haven't even informed them whether or not he had been arrested.

Local residents have also spoken about the incident with some saying "they couldn't believe" the incident would happen in their area.

Meanwhile, Essex Police have corrected their earlier theories about how the truck entered the UK, now saying it came into the country via Belgium.

Originally it was thought both parts of the vehicle had entered Britain at Holyhead in North Wales on Saturday and to have originally started its journey in Bulgaria.

But the Bulgarian foreign ministry said while the vehicle was registered in Bulgaria by a company owned by an Irishwoman on June 19, 2017, it had left the next day and never returned.

The bodies were found in this truck container.
The bodies were found in this truck container.


Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said his country had no other connection with the deaths.

Police believe the trailer travelled by ferry across the English Channel from Zeebrugge in Belgium into Purfleet port on the River Thames.

Emergency services were called to Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, about 32km east of London, where they made the grim discovery.

The truck was later driven away to a secure location at nearby Tilbury Docks so the bodies could be recovered.

The new details shorten the expected time frame of how long the asylum seekers were in the refrigerated truck.

"Originally, we reported that the lorry (truck) had travelled into the country through Holyhead on Saturday 19 October," Essex Police said in a statement.

"After further inquiries, we now believe that the trailer travelled from Zeebrugge (Belgium) into Purfleet (England) and docked in the Thurrock area shortly after 12.30am this morning (10.30 AEDT)

"The tractor unit of the lorry is believed to have originated in Northern Ireland.

"We believe the lorry and trailer left the port shortly after 1.05am (11.05am AEDT)."

Verona Murphy, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, said drivers and staff in the industry were sad and angry.

"We don't condone illegal immigration, assuming that's what this is, if this is the case it's selfish and greedy without any concern for those who wish to cross borders," she said.

"We've never had incidents where smugglers have offered any of our drivers money but we've had a number of incidents where drivers were subject to threats and have reported that.

"What happens out there is a very organised industry and we would say it's hazardous for everyone involved."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the deaths, calling those responsible "evil".

Mr Johnson said he would support all efforts to bring the people smugglers to justice, as police launched a major murder investigation.

The bodies were found in a truck at the Waterglade Industrial Estate.
The bodies were found in a truck at the Waterglade Industrial Estate.

None of the people inside the container could be saved.

Mr Johnson said he was appalled and would fight for justice.

"We know that this trade is going on - all such traders in human beings should be hunted down and brought to justice," he said.

And he also put his heart out to the police and ambulance officers who were called to the scene.

Mr Johnson was in Prime Minister's Question time responding to a comment from MP Jackie Doyle-Price, who said: "To put 39 people into a locked metal container shows a contempt for human life that is evil.

"The best thing we can do in memory of those victims is to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice."

Police were chasing more people involved in the deadly people smuggling operation following the driver's arrest.

None of the victims have been identified and it was expected to take some time because it was believed their deaths were part of a people smuggling operation gone wrong.

Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills, of Essex Police, said police received reports of multiple people inside the container.

"Emergency services attended but sadly all 39 people inside the container had died," she said.

"A murder investigation was launched and the lorry (truck) driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody."

39 bodies found in a lorry container in Essex -pic Sky news
39 bodies found in a lorry container in Essex -pic Sky news

Detective Chief Constable Mills added that police needed help to find out what happened.

"This is an absolute tragedy and very sad day for Essex Police and the local community. We will continue to work alongside many other partner agencies to find out what led to these deaths," she said.

"I would like to appeal for anyone who has any information to contact my officers at the Major Investigation Team … but please appreciate we are in the early stages of what is likely to be a lengthy investigation."

For years, illegal immigrants have attempted to reach Britain stowed away in the back of trucks, often seeking to reach the United Kingdom from the European mainland.

Separately yesterday, police in the neighbouring county of Kent found nine people alive in a truck on the M20 motorway heading towards London, Sky News reported.

In Britain's biggest illegal immigrant tragedy in 2000, customs officials found the bodies of 58 Chinese people crammed into a tomato truck at the southern port of Dover.

It had begun its journey in Zeebrugge.