Second alleged people smuggler to face trial over 39 migrant deaths in lorry

Marius Mihai Draghici did not enter a plea

Police found 39 bodies inside a lorry container on an industrial estate in Essex. PA
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An alleged people-smuggling leader will go on trial in November over the deaths of 39 men, women and children in a lorry trailer in Essex.

Marius Mihai Draghici, 49, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration with haulier Caolan Gormley and others.

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

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

Mr Draghici, who was detained by police in Romania last August, stood in the dock and declined to enter pleas to the charges against him, saying: “I don't want to do it today.”

Mr Gormley, 25, from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, has previously denied the charge of conspiracy to assist illegal immigration and was not required to attend the hearing.

Romanian citizen Marius Mihai Draghici did not enter a plea. PA

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

Updated: February 03, 2023, 8:25 PM