Fresh out of last week's harrowing investigation, Nikki Alexander and her colleagues are straight into another challenging case in the third episode of Silent Witness season 26.


Be warned – there are full spoilers ahead for episode 3, which was available early on BBC iPlayer and airs on BBC One at 9pm on Monday 9th January.

While hanging out at a quarry in Kent, a group of teenagers discover an abandoned lorry containing multiple dead bodies and several people on the verge of death.

The man behind the wheel is also dead, his blood splattered across the vehicle's cab.

Initially, the assumption is that the people in the truck have been smuggled into the UK via France, which sadly mirrors current real-world events.

"It's the main route from Dover to London," says Jack.

But as the Lyell team dig further into what happened, it emerges that the people onboard were being smuggled out of the UK.

"It's becoming an origin country for trafficking," says DI Sarah Torres. "The pandemic didn't help. A million young people went off the radar when youth services closed or moved online. Gangs take vulnerable kids out the country to Holland, Germany..."

Nikki notes that two of the victims "weren't even British, they were Georgian", asking: "So who were these people?"

"The ones we failed," responds Sarah.

Sarah and Jack sitting in her car
Nadine Marshall as Sarah Torres in Silent Witness. BBC Studios/Kieron McCarron BBC Studios/Kieron McCarron

Two of the "vulnerable kids" that the detective speaks of are 16-year-old Robbie and 20-year-old Maeve Tooney. After their dad died, Robbie fell in with a bad crowd who are involved in drug dealing. A short time later, he disappeared.

"They took him away, to sell their poison," says his mum.

Nikki and her team believe that Maeve was trying to find her brother and bring her home, but tragically she wound up dead in the back of the lorry clutching Robbie's St Christopher chain.

The three people uncovered from the lorry and taken to hospital are Ketevan Gvazava, Lucy Stevens and Will Sturton, who are all believed to be at the mercy of the gang.

But towards the end of the episode, it's signposted that Will is a key player in the operation and the one who was driving the vehicle. It's probable that Will, like Robbie, was preyed upon by seasoned criminals from a young age and groomed for the drugs trade.

Sarah rushes to the hospital to apprehend him but when she arrives, he's already bolted. Instead, she's faced with a terrified Ketevan, who collapses in her arms.

Will she survive? And will the authorities succeed in breaking up the people-smuggling ring?

Silent Witness episode 4 airs on Tuesday 10th January at 9pm. The series is also available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 12 issues for only £1 with delivery to your home subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times View From My Sofa podcast.