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Man facing charges over 39 bodies in lorry can appeal extradition order

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The container lorry in which 39 people were found dead in Essex. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The container lorry in which 39 people were found dead in Essex. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The container lorry in which 39 people were found dead in Essex. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

A Northern Irish man has been granted leave to challenge his extradition to the UK, where he is wanted to face multiple counts of manslaughter after 39 Vietnamese nationals were found dead in a lorry in Essex last October.

The UK authorities want Eamon Ronald Harrison (23) from Mayobridge, Co Down, to face 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and conspiracy to commit human trafficking under the UK's Modern Slavery Act.

It is alleged Mr Harrison delivered the trailer, in which the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, on October 23, to a Belgian port before its onward journey to Britain, the court previously heard.

There is evidence that the sealed refrigeration unit in which the 39 people were found dead was not turned on and early indications are that all of the deceased died from oxygen starvation.

The temperature inside the unit rose to 38.5C before it "steadily reduced" while "bloody hand prints" were later found in the inside of the unit, the High Court has heard.

On January 24, Mr Justice Donald Binchy said he found there was nothing to preclude him from ordering the surrender of Mr Harrison to the UK authorities, but he held off making the order to allow Mr Harrison's legal team to consider his judgment.

Importance

Last week, Siobhán Stack SC, for Mr Harrison, requested permission to appeal the judgment.

She said the matter was one of exceptional public importance and that, as a matter of public interest, it should be heard in a higher court.

The barrister said: "This is a matter for a higher court to rule on."

Ronan Kennedy SC, for the Minister for Justice, argued that no public interest matter arises and no point of law of exceptional importance arises in order to allow for an appeal.

He argued the extradition order "ought to be made without further delay".

Mr Justice Binchy said he gave "very serious consideration" to the arguments advanced by both parties before certifying three questions of appeal put forward by Mr Harrison.

The judge made the order for Mr Harrison's extradition but put a stay on the execution of that order pending his appeal.

In his written judgment last month, Mr Justice Binchy dismissed all of Mr Harrison's objections to his extradition.

The judgment also outlined further details of the allegations against Mr Harrison.

The judge said other information regarding "the activities" of Mr Harrison had been provided to the High Court.

Irish Independent