ONE of Britain’s biggest ever murder investigations has been launched after a grisly discovery was made in a lorry in the early hours of October 23.

A lorry driver from Northern Ireland has been arrested after the discovery was made in Grays, Essex. Here's what we know about where it happened and who the victims were.

Essex lorry deaths – where did the lorry come from and who are the victims?_1
Forensic experts examine the lorry discovered in Essex
Where did the lorry come from?

The lorry cab picked up the trailer from Purfleet, Essex, after it travelled 173 miles from Zeebrugge, Belgium, at 12.30am on October 23, police confirmed.

Cops said the cab and trailer were then attached and driven away from the port at around 1.05am.

CCTV shows the lorry making its final journey packed with the dead suspected migrants – including one teenager – 30 minutes before the grim discovery was made.

It was originally believed the lorry entered the UK via a ferry crossing from Dublin to Holyhead, Wales, on Saturday.

But police have now confirmed it was only the lorry's cab that travelled from Holyhead on Saturday, October 19.

New data has shown the GPS tracker on the trailer was switched on at 3.06pm on October 15 after travelling from Dublin to Monaghan, near the border with Northern Ireland.

It then stopped at Warwickshire and Kent before crossing the Channel to Belgium, and making its way on to Calais and Dunkirk.

From here, it went back to the UK via Belgium and then repeated the journey before the victims made the perilous 173-mile journey in the refrigerated container to Purfleet.

The container's movements will heighten fears ruthless "Snakehead" Chinese gangs are using ports in Europe to smuggle migrants into the UK.

Robinson meanwhile was in the lorry's cab, which travelled from Holyhead on Saturday, and picked up the container at 12.30am.

Both lorry and trailer then left the port at 1.05am. Less than 35 minutes later ambulance and police made the grim discovery of the 39 bodies in the back.

It has been reported the migrants had been dead for at least 12 hours before reaching the UK.

Essex lorry deaths – where did the lorry come from and who are the victims?_2

 
Who are the 39 victims found in the lorry?

A total of 39 bodies, including one teenager, were found inside the container.

Police are currently working to identify the people killed but said it would be a “lengthy process”.

They were alerted by paramedics but it is not clear who made the original discovery.

All 39 people were dead before the emergency services arrived and have all been confirmed as Chinese nationals.

A cordon is in place at Waterglade Industrial Park, which is currently closed.

It is the biggest disaster of its kind since 2000, when 58 Chinese stowaways died in a lorry travelling by ferry from Belgium to Britain.

Essex lorry deaths – where did the lorry come from and who are the victims?_3
Police have arrested Mo Robinson
What is known about the lorry driver?

Driver Maurice "Mo"  Robinson, 25, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Robinson, from Northern Ireland, was arrested in one of Britain's biggest-ever mass murder probes after the grisly discovery.

Essex Police have confirmed he remains in custody.

He had picked up the trailer after it arrived from Zeebrugge, Belgium, at 12.30am on October 23.

Robinson doesn't own the lorry, which was registered in Bulgaria in 2017 by an Irish company.

But he appears to make regular trips to Denmark and Sweden, which would mean driving through Britain.

Robinson's family, from County Armagh, told the Belfast Telegraph they hadn’t “heard from him” and “don’t know what is going on”.

Dad-to-be Robinson, from Northern Ireland, is said to have opened the container to get some paperwork and passed out when he made the grim discovery.

A pal said: "When he opened the container up and saw all the dead bodies, he was absolutely horrified – as anyone would be – and called the ambulance service who in turn alerted the police.

"I heard the container was refrigerated – the temperature was -25 degrees and the bodies were frozen and had been dead for some time."
Had there been warnings about people smuggling?

Police warned the government three years ago that people smugglers were targeting Purfleet – the Essex port where the lorry container carrying the 39 migrants docked

Ministers were told by the National Crime Agency (NCA) that the port was being used by people smugglers because it was "less busy" than other ports

Five years ago, one migrant died and 35 others – including children – were rescued from a container at nearby Tilbury Docks

Workers heard screaming and banging from the 40ft container soon after a P'O ferry docked in the Essex port