Essex trailer deaths: Armagh man wanted by police loses HGV licence

Christopher Hughes and his brother named as suspects after 39 found dead in trailer

Christopher Hughes (34) (left) and his brother Ronan (40), from Armagh, whom British police said were crucial to their inquiries. Photograph: HO/Essex Police/AFP via Getty

Christopher Hughes (34) (left) and his brother Ronan (40), from Armagh, whom British police said were crucial to their inquiries. Photograph: HO/Essex Police/AFP via Getty

 

Monaghan man Christopher Hughes, who is wanted by UK police in connection with the deaths of 39 illegal immigrants in Essex, has lost his heavy goods vehicles (HGV) licence in the UK.

Mr Hughes and his brother Ronan were named as suspects after 39 Vietnamese men and woman were found dead in a refrigerated trailer leased by Ronan Hughes.

At a Public Inquiry in Belfast on Friday his firm, C.Hughes, with an address in Armagh had its licence to operate several vehicles revoked.

Christopher Hughes did not attend the hearing, but was represented by lawyers Logan and Corry who had earlier asked for an adjournment but their request was denied.

The inquiry was held Belfast at the Killymeal House.

Their client previously held a HGV licence for the Republic of Ireland which was also withdrawn in January 2016 because of infringements.

Christopher Hughes also had a separate licence in Northern Ireland revoked in 2015.

Both licences allowed him to operate HGV vehicles across EU member states.

The revocation of the licence is related to his loss of his Republic of Ireland licence, which he had lost because his drivers were driving for longer time periods than is legally allowed .

Christopher Hughes (34) and his brother Ronan (40) are wanted for questioning by Essex police on suspicion of of manslaughter and human trafficking. Both men have links to Armagh and Monaghan but were born, reared and live in Monaghan.

At the beginning of November British police said the brothers were crucial to their inquiries but they remain at large.

Their trucking firm is based in Tyholland just 7kms from the Armagh border at Middletown.

Ronan Hughes leased the trailer in which the migrants were discovered from Global Trailer Rentals (GTR), an Irish company with a postal address in Dublin, but which actually operates from Monaghan as well.

John Martin of the Road Haulage Association said as a result of the public inquiry, Chris Hughes’ HGV vehicles should “not be operating anywhere within the EU, in other words they should be taken off the road immediately”.

He said Friday’s hearing appeared to be the first such inquiry held in the UK for some years.

Mr Martin added: “I think it is up to the Department of Infrastructure to give some insight into the reason for holding this public inquiry today and was it linked in any way to the issues in Essex.”

The department has been contacted by various media sources but as yet has made no reply.