Man granted leave to challenge his extradition over 39 lorry deaths

Eamon Harrison wanted by UK authorities to face 39 counts of manslaughter

Mr Justice Binchy made the order for Mr Harrison’s extradition but put a stay on the execution of that order pending his appeal. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Mr Justice Binchy made the order for Mr Harrison’s extradition but put a stay on the execution of that order pending his appeal. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

A Northern Ireland man has been granted leave to challenge his extradition to the UK, where he is wanted to face multiple counts of manslaughter after 39 Vietnamese nationals were found dead in a lorry in Essex last October.

The UK authorities want Eamon Ronald Harrison (23) from Mayobridge, Co Down, to face 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and conspiracy to commit human trafficking under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act.

It is alleged that Mr Harrison delivered the trailer, in which the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in an industrial park in Grays, Essex on October 23 last, to a Belgian port before its onward journey to Britain, the court previously heard.

There is evidence that the sealed refrigeration unit in which the 39 people were found dead was not turned on and early indications are that all of the deceased died from oxygen starvation.

The temperature inside the unit rose to 38.5 degrees before it “steadily reduced” while “bloody hand prints” were later found in the inside of the unit, the High Court has heard.

On January 24th last, Mr Justice Donald Binchy said he found there was nothing to preclude him from ordering the surrender of Mr Harrison to the UK authorities but he held off making the order to allow Mr Harrison’s legal team to consider his judgment.

Last week Siobhan Stack SC, for Mr Harrison, requested permission to appeal the judgment. She said the matter is one of exceptional public importance and that, as a matter of public interest, it should be heard in a higher court. The barrister said: “This is a matter for a higher court to rule on.”

Ronan Kennedy SC, for the Minister for Justice, argued that no public interest matter arises and no point of law of exceptional importance arises in order to allow for an appeal. He argued that the extradition order “ought to be made without further delay”.

Mr Justice Binchy said he gave “very serious consideration” to the arguments advanced by both parties before certifying three questions of appeal put forward by Mr Harrison.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Binchy made the order for Mr Harrison’s extradition but put a stay on the execution of that order pending his appeal.