A DRIVER has admitted the manslaughter of 39 migrants found dead in the back of his refrigerated lorry in Essex.
Maurice 'Mo' Robinson, 25, was part of a global smuggling ring when the bodies of the 31 men and eight women were discovered on October 23.
All of the victims – including two boys aged just 15, were from Vietnam.
Robinson, whose Scania cab was attached to the trailer when the bodies were found, today pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter at the Old Bailey.
He has already admitted plotting to assist illegal immigration.
Police put out a chilling timeline of events at the time – revealing the lorry's cab travelled from Holyhead, while the trailer – with the 39 bodies – travelled 173 miles from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet, Essex.
Robinson then picked up the trailer from at 12.30am in Purfleet.
His lorry, which he named The Polar Express on social media, and the trailer then left the port at 1.05am.
Less than 35 minutes later ambulance and police made the grim discovery of the 39 bodies in the back in an industrial estate in Grays, Essex.
It was reported at the time the migrants had been dead for at least 12 hours before reaching the UK after temperatures plunged to as low as -25C.
Even if the trailer was not chilled, the victims may have suffered agonising deaths as oxygen slowly ran out.
Some sent their heartbroken loved ones final text messages saying they "couldn't breathe" as they made the doomed journey to the UK for a better life.
The horror had chilling echoes of 2000, when 58 Chinese stowaways died in a lorry travelling by ferry from Belgium to Britain.
In both tragedies, the victims had come from Zeebrugge in to Purfleet port in Essex.
More to follow…
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