Image copyright PA Media Image caption The bodies were discovered in a refrigerated trailer

A man has been arrested in the Republic of Ireland in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals found in a lorry in Essex.

The 31 men and eight women were discovered in a refrigerated trailer on 23 October in Grays.

Ronan Hughes, who is 40 years old, was held under a European Arrest Warrant.

He is due to appear at Dublin's High Court on Tuesday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, as well as immigration offences.

Mr Hughes has links to County Armagh in Northern Ireland and County Monaghan in Ireland.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith, head of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "This investigation is one of the largest in Essex Police history and we are working tirelessly to piece together the events leading up to the 23 October 2019 for the sake of the victims and their loved ones.

"We have worked closely with the National Crime Agency and Crown Prosecution Service as well as police and prosecutors in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Germany and Vietnam."

Image caption Waterglade Industrial Park was closed off after the lorry container was discovered in October

On 8 April, 25-year-old Maurice Robinson, of Craigavon, County Armagh, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to 39 counts of manslaughter.

He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Robinson will be sentenced at a later date.

Four other men will stand trial at the Old Bailey in connection with this investigation on 5 October.

Eamonn Harrison, 22, of Mayobridge, Northern Ireland, who under a European Arrest Warrant faced 39 charges of manslaughter, has been granted leave to appeal against his extradition to the UK.

He also faced a charge of conspiracy to traffic people, as well as conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

A further hearing will be held in Dublin on 7 May.

The bodies of the Vietnamese nationals were discovered at an industrial estate soon after the lorry arrived in the UK on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Among them were 10 teenagers, two of them 15-year-old boys.