By Oisin Sweeney • 19 November 2020 • 20:47
THE driver of a truck where 39 migrants died of suffocation has denied all charges of manslaughter and any knowledge he was involved in people smuggling.
The lorry driver who transported a container of 39 migrants who died en route to the UK claims to have been watching a ‘wee bit of Netflix’ when the victims were loaded onto his truck in France.
Eamonn Harrison, a 23-year-old from Northern Ireland, denies having had any knowledge that he was involved in people smuggling when he drove 39 Vietnamese nationals from Bierne in northern France to Zeebrugge, Belgium.
All of the migrants suffocated to death on their voyage in an airtight container to the UK in October 2019.
He told the Old Bailey that he originally believed he would be transporting Coca Cola, though his haulage firm’s boss Ronan Hughes later told him he’d be transporting stolen goods.
Harrison said he drove to a field near Bierne where he met a Romanian man and was told to close his curtains while the trailer was loaded. He said he took this opportunity to ‘watch a wee bit of Netflix’.
The jury heard a French woman’s testimony that she saw the migrants running from a farmhouse onto the lorry that morning.
When he was given the instructions to drive on, Harrison drove the lorry to the Belgian port city of Zeebrugge.
CCTV footage revealed that the journey was made with the ladders used to enter the lorry down, which Harrison confirmed he would not usually do.
He was later arrested in Dublin port after the bodies were discovered in Essex and have pled not guilty to 39 charges of manslaughter and 1 of people smuggling.
Maurice Harrison, a 26-year-old also from Northern Ireland, collected the container in Essex and discovered the bodies. He has pleaded guilty to all charges of manslaughter and people smuggling.
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Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...
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