Irish truck driver released without charge after 15 men are found in back of lorry in UK
AN IRISH truck driver was released without charge last night after 15 migrants suspected of entering the UK illegally were found in the back of a lorry on a motorway.
The driver, who is in his 50s, was originally detained on suspicion of assisting illegal entry to the UK when police were alerted to suspicious activity on a lay-by near Chippenham in Wiltshire.
Police said the tip off came from a member of the public.
However, the owners of the Cork-based company said it was their driver who had contacted the police and that both he and the company were fully co-operating with the investigation, which is being led by officers from the British Home Office immigration enforcement division. He was later released without charge.
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The 15 men in the back of the truck, who all claim to be from either Iran or Iraq, were arrested on suspicion of entering the UK illegally.
The truck driver was released without charge from Wiltshire police headquarters in Swindon shortly after 7pm.
But the forensic examination of his lorry is not expected to be finished until later today.
The lorry had been taking a shipment of perishable goods back to Ireland from mainland Europe and had travelled by ferry from Calais to Dover.
The driver was heading for Pembroke to board the ferry to Rosslare when he stopped off the A350 motorway near Chippenham after he heard knocking and thought it was a flat tyre.
The tractor cab is owned by transport company Sean Delaney and Sons Transport, which is based in Glanmire, Co Cork.
Last night its operations manager Michael Delaney said he was satisfied that everything was “100pc” from the point of view of the company and the driver.
The lorry had stopped off the A350 motorway on Wednesday night, about four hours after arriving at Dover port from Calais in France.
Wiltshire police said they stopped the truck on the A350 at the Kington Langley crossroads, near Chippenham.
Mr Delaney told the ‘Neil Prendeville Show’ on Cork’s RedFM that the driver heard knocking and thought it was a flat tyre.
“He came off the motorway and pulled into a lay-by. He then heard knocking from the trailer when the truck stopped.
“Another lorry driver, who had pulled into the area, came over to see if everything was OK. That lorry driver also heard knocking on the trailer.”
Mr Delaney said the driver then immediately called the police, who arrived to find 15 people in the back of the trailer. The driver was taken to the nearest police station and questioned.
He said both he and the driver had been co-operating with the police and would continue to do so.
He said Delaney Transport had been operating out of Cork for 55 years and for 45 years on the continent of Europe.
It has a fleet of eight trucks and refrigerated trailers and all of its employees are Irish.
However, Superintendent Steve Cox, of Wiltshire police, said the incident had been reported initially to them by a vigilant member of the public.
“It is thanks to them that this incident was resolved swiftly and safely with no serious casualties,” he added.
Gardaí said they had not received any official request from the UK authorities for assistance.
However, officers in Cork have been making inquiries to establish the route taken by the refrigerated trailer before it arrived at Calais and to also find out whether the tractor cab had collected it at Dover, Calais or prior to that.
Separately, UK police say they have formally identified the 39 Vietnamese people whose bodies were found in a trailer unit last October 23.
DNA samples were taken in Vietnam from concerned families.