Just two weeks after 39 people were found dead in a truck in England, 15 people were found alive on Nov. 6 in the back of another truck near Chippenham, some 90 miles west of London.
The truck driver and the 15 male occupants of the truck’s trailer were arrested, since the occupants are believed to have entered the United Kingdom illegally.
The nationalities of the men aren’t yet known.
Wiltshire Police said ambulance service personnel carried out medical checks on all those found in the truck, and that 14 were deemed fit and well enough to be taken to custody suites in nearby Melksham and Swindon. According to a police report, “One person was taken to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon as a precaution, but was later taken into custody.”
A member of the public alerted Wiltshire police to suspicious activity at a rest area on the A350 on Nov. 6.
The driver of the truck is in his 50s and is said to be an Irish citizen. He was arrested “on suspicion of assisting illegal entry into the country,” and has been taken into custody for further questioning.
We were called by a member of the public shortly before 8.30pm this evening following a report of suspicious activity involving a lorry on the A350 near Chippenham.
Officers attended the scene and located 15 people in the rear of the vehicle.
— Wiltshire Police (@wiltshirepolice) November 6, 2019
Duty Superintendent Steve Cox said: “Members of the public would have noticed a large number of emergency services in the vicinity of the A350 last night while we dealt with this incident and the road was closed for approximately four hours, while we carried out inquiries at the scene and recovery was arranged for the lorry, which was a hard-sided large goods vehicle.
“We are working closely with partner agencies as we conduct further inquiries—I fully understand that recent tragic events elsewhere in the country will mean there will be increased interest and heightened concern regarding this incident. I’d like to thank all emergency services who responded last night—as with all incidents, we didn’t know the scale of what we would potentially be dealing with and all first responders showed true professionalism at the scene.
“I would also like to extend my thanks to the vigilant member of the public who initially reported this incident to us—it is thanks to them that this incident was resolved swiftly and safely with no serious casualties,” he said.
The logistics company that owns the truck was identified as Delaney Transport International from Cork in Ireland. A spokesman for the company confirmed that the truck belonged to the company.
Speaking to The Neil Prendeville Show local radio station RedFM, Mike Delaney said, “We can confirm that the truck involved in last night’s incident in Chippenham was one of our ‘Delaney Transport’ trucks. Our driver was on the way from Calais to Dover. The driver heard knocking and thought it was a flat tire. He came off the motorway and pulled in to a [rest area]. He then heard knocking from the trailer when the truck stopped. Another lorry driver, who had pulled in to the area, came over to see if everything was OK.
“That lorry driver then heard knocking on the trailer as well. The Delaney Transport driver then immediately called the police, who arrived to find 15 people in the back of the trailer. The driver was taken to the nearest police station and has been questioned,” Delaney said.
He stressed that his company has been cooperating fully with the police.
Meanwhile, police in Vietnam have confirmed that all 39 of the victims found on a truck near London on Oct. 23 were Vietnamese nationals; all have been positively identified. Eight people were arrested in Vietnam this week in connection with that incident.
— Essex Police (@EssexPoliceUK) November 7, 2019
Essex police have initiated extradition proceedings against a 22-year-old Northern Irish man, Eamonn Harrison, who appeared before Ireland’s High Court on Nov. 1. Harrison was remanded in custody on 39 counts of manslaughter in addition to immigration and human trafficking charges.
The driver of the truck, Mo Robinson, 25, appeared before a UK court in Chelmsford, charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and a raft of charges related to human trafficking, money laundering, and assisting unlawful immigration.
Police have asked two other men—Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher Hughes, 34, from Armagh in Northern Ireland—to turn themselves in. The pair could also face charges of manslaughter and human trafficking.
Organised crime gangs have no respect for human life and it is reckless to provide a platform for their illegal activity. Doing so simply encourages them to exploit our border for profit, risking the lives of vulnerable people. #Smuggled
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) November 4, 2019