Police yesterday seized cars belonging to an Irish haulage boss and his wife who are being quizzed by detectives over the deaths of 39 migrants.
The vehicles – a white Chevrolet Corvette, grey Range Rover Sport and Discovery Sport with personalised number plates, and a Kawasaki motor bike – are owned by Thomas and Joanna Maher, both 38.
The couple were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people after a dramatic early morning raid on their £400,000 home in Warrington, Cheshire on Friday.
Three flat-bed trucks with winches arrived at the property yesterday afternoon to remove the three cars and the lime green motorbike under the guidance of senior police officers.
Cops yesterday (Sat) seized three expensive cars and a motorbike belonging to an Irish haulage company boss and his wife arrested in connection with the deaths of 39 immigrants
The vehicles – a white Chevrolet Corvette, and his-and-hers grey Range Rover Sport and Discovery Sport – are owned by Thomas and Joanna Maher, who remain in police custody
It is understood the cars and bike will undergo forensic examination at an undisclosed location.
Mr Maher, a former lorry driver, is the director of two UK firms – Thomas Maher Transport (TMT) Ltd and a hairdressing salon called New Hair Don’t Care. According to latest accounts, the firms have total net assets of around £17,000.
Documents name Mrs Maher as the owner of the Scania cab driven by Mo Robinson, 25, when the 39 bodies of migrants was discovered in a refrigerated trailer near Purfleet docks in Essex.
The cab was registered in Bulgaria to a firm called Today’s Movements Tomorrow.
Before their arrest, the couple said it had been sold last year to a company in County Monaghan, Ireland. ‘I went to British police as we were the registered owners [of the cab in Bulgaria],’ Mr Maher told reporters. ‘I phoned them myself. They were happy we had come forward.’
Joanna and Thomas Maher, arrested in connection with Essex lorry deaths. Hours after the Mahers were arrested, a 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland was detained at Stansted Airport on suspicion of trafficking and manslaughter
Neighbours said they moved into the four-bedroomed home two years ago and described them as a ‘nice and normal’ couple.
Friends said they liked to treat their children, aged 18, 12 and ten, to family holidays in Mexico and Jamaica.
‘They work hard and moan about Brexit non-stop, like most business people,’ said one. ‘They’ve been very worried about the possible effect on the haulage business.’
The friend said the family are avid Manchester United fans and regularly go to games. They added: ‘It’s the children I feel sorry for now. They’ve got no other family in Warrington and I’m worried sick for them.’
Hours after the Mahers were arrested, a 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland was detained at Stansted Airport on suspicion of trafficking and manslaughter.
In a further development, a trucker in his 20s was yesterday arrested at Dublin port in connection with an earlier assault charge. Police said the man was of interest to them in connection with the deaths of the 39 migrants, but did not specify why or how.
The driver was returning to Ireland from the UK in his lorry cab when he was detained.
He appeared before a judge in Dublin over his failure to appear in court last November to face assault and criminal damage charges and was remanded in custody.
Meanwhile, Essex Police said they were using dental records as well as fingerprints and DNA to identify the 39 victims in the lorry trailer. The force said that each of the victims – 31 men and eight women – were carrying a bag, clothes and other belongings.
‘So far we have over 500 exhibits, including mobile phones, which have to have data downloaded,’ it said.