Tyrone man charged with immigration offence in connection with Essex lorry deaths to go on trial

Some 39 Vietnamese men, women and children found dead in container in Belgium in 2019

Northern Ireland haulier Caolan Gormley will go on trial in the UK in November, charged with an immigration offence in connection with the 2019 deaths of 39 men, women and children in a lorry trailer in Essex.

The Vietnamese nationals were found dead in the container which had been transported by ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet early on October 23rd, 2019.

An alleged people-smuggling leader will also go on trial on the same date in connection with the same incident. Marius Mihai Draghici (49) was detained by police in Romania last August. He is charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration with haulier Mr Gormley and others.

At an Old Bailey hearing in London on Friday, Judge Anthony Leonard confirmed Mr Draghici and Mr Gormley would face trial from November 6th.


Mr Draghici stood in the dock but declined to enter pleas to the charges against him, saying: “I don’t want to do it today”.

Mr Gormley (25) from Co Tyrone has previously denied the charge of conspiracy to assist illegal immigration and was not required to attend the hearing. It is alleged he allowed vehicles in his road haulage fleet to be used for the transport of migrants into the UK.

The four-week trial for Mr Draghici and Mr Gormley will be heard before a High Court judge.

A further plea hearing was also set for April 14th.

Mr Draghici is in custody and Mr Gormley remains on conditional bail. – PA