A lorry driver accused of the manslaughter of 39 migrants was part of a “global ring” that smuggled people into the UK, a court has heard.
Maurice Robinson was arrested on October 23, after the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailed attached to his truck in an Essex industrial park.
The 25-year-old appeared in court on Monday via video link, where he was charged with manslaughter, people trafficking and assisting unlawful immigration.
At the brief court appearance, prosecutor Ogheneruona Iguyovwe said Robinson was involved in “the movement of a large number of illegal immigrants into the UK”.
The defendant spoke only to give his name, address and nationality and was not asked to indicate a plea.
He will next appear at the Old Bailey on November 25 to make his plea and attend a trial preparation hearing.
Boris Johnson left flowers in tribute to the 39 victims
Three other suspects have been released on bail after being questioned on suspicion of manslaughter and people trafficking.
A man and woman, both 38, from Warrington were arrested in Cheshire on Friday and a 46-year-old man from Northern Ireland was arrested at Stansted Airport later the same day.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has visited Thurrock Council Offices in Essex to sign a book of condolences to the victims, who remain unidentified.
Police originally believed the victims were Chinese, but Vietnamese men and women are now feared to be among the dead.
The Vietnamese ambassador to the UK, Tran Ngoc An, spoke to Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday night before he met with police.
Very few of the 39 had identification on them, meaning police have been using fingerprints, scars and tattoo to try and trace their families.