Ronan Hughes, 40, was deemed a flight risk and will remain in custody until his extradition hearing.
Ronan Hughes, from Co Monaghan, has been denied bail and will now remain in custody until his extradition trial. Hughes has been charged for his alleged involvement with the October 2019 tragedy that saw 39 Vietnamese migrants perish in the back of a refrigerated truck in the UK.
During his bail hearing on April 29 at Dublin’s High Court, Hughes was alleged to have “organised, paid for the travel, and controlled the drivers who collected the migrants” who ultimately died in the back of a lorry. Hughes was described as “the ringleader” and “chief organiser” of the tragic incident last year.
Objecting to bail, gardaí gave evidence that Hughes, who operates an international haulage business, has “huge connections” and familiarity with various ports throughout Europe and had the “wherewithal to flee the jurisdiction at the appropriate time.”
On April 30, presiding Justice Paul Burns opted to deny Hughes bail as he felt the evidence presented against Hughes showed the Co Monaghan man had a “controlling role” in the October 2019 tragedy and that he had probable reason to abscond.
Hughes has now be remanded into custody until May 15, when the full hearing of his extradition to the UK, where the tragedy occurred, will take place.
During the bail hearing on April 29, Detective Sergeant Jim Kirwan read from the EAW used to arrest Hughes: "On October 15, 2019 [Ronan] Hughes arranged for his driver Maurice Robinson to deliver trailer number GTR128D to Mr. Eamon Harrison in France. On October 16, 2019, Hughes travelled to Essex.
(Earlier this month, Maurice Robinson, of Co Armagh, pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter put against him for his involvement.)
"On October 17, 2019, Harrison collected cakes and biscuits in Belgium and drove to Dunkirk, France. There was no legitimate reason for him to have travelled to France.
"He then drove to Zeebrugge and travelled by sea to the UK. [A named man] collected the trailer and drove to Collingwood Farm. [A named man] and Hughes also travelled to the farm at the same time.
"After leaving the farm [a named man] and Hughes travelled together to an industrial site where attempts were made to disguise the fact that people had been in the trailer.
"When [a named man] delivered the load to the intended recipient it was rejected due to signs that people had been in the container.
"Later that day Hughes returned to a hotel in Essex where he met Robinson and [a named man]. [A named man] was seen to give Hughes a bag.
"Later that day Robinson took the trailer GTR128D to Purfleet where it travelled to Belgium and was collected by Harrison.
"On October 22, 2019, Harrison takes the trailer GTR128D to Dunkirk, France where a witness saw people entering the trailer. As on October 17, Harrison had no legitimate reason to travel to France.
"Before taking the trailer to Zeebrugge Harrison makes two stops in Belgium. Temperatures within the trailer suggest that the doors were opened during these stops. The trailer travelled to Purfleet by sea.
"When booking the ferry Hughes falsely declared that the trailer was carrying a load of biscuits. On 22 October 2019 Robinson is waiting in Purfleet and is taken to Collingwood farm.
"Robinson then collects the trailer from the port in Purfleet. In order to enter the port he used a pin number provided to Hughes by the ferry company.
"Robinson drives a short distance before opening the rear doors and discovering the occupants. 39 Vietnamese men and women are dead.
"Robinson first telephones Hughes and the emergency services who arrive at 01.49 and declare that all 39 migrants are dead.
“The deceased died from lack of oxygen caused by being sealed within a container with insufficient air to sustain life.
"The ferry entered UK territorial waters at 19.43. An expert witness concludes that taking into account the temperature increase and phone usage by the victims, they all died between 20:00 and 22:00 hours," he concluded.
Hughes was arrested on April 20 at his home at Leitrim, Silverstream, Tyholland in Co Monaghan after a European Arrest Warrant was executed by the UK’s Essex Police, who are leading the investigation. The 40-year-old has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and one charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.