RAF gunner inquest 'won't be inquiry into cop probe of disappearance'

Inquest into death of missing RAF gunner Corrie McKeague who ‘died in the back of a bin lorry’ will not become an inquiry into how police investigated his 2016 disappearance, says coroner

  • Corrie McKeague, of Dunfermline, Fife, was 23 when he vanished in early hours of Sept 24, 2016, after night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
  • Police believe airman climbed into a bin which was then tipped into a waste lorry
  • Was reported missing on Sept 26 by colleagues at RAF Honington; no trace of him has been found
  • Nigel Parsley, senior coroner for Suffolk: ‘I’m very minded this will not become an inquiry into the police investigation’

The inquest into the death of missing RAF gunner Corrie McKeague will not become an inquiry into the police investigation of his disappearance, a coroner has said.

Mr McKeague, of Dunfermline, Fife, was 23 when he vanished in the early hours of September 24, 2016, after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Suffolk Police believe the airman climbed into a bin which was then tipped into a waste lorry.

He was reported missing at 3.42pm on September 26 by colleagues at RAF Honington and no trace of him has been found.

The inquest into the death of missing RAF gunner Corrie McKeague (above) will not become an inquiry into the police investigation of his disappearance, a coroner said today

Corrie McKeague, of Dunfermline, Fife, was 23 when he vanished in the early hours of September 24, 2016, after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. (Above, CCTV shows the RAF serviceman walking down Brentgovel Street on the night he disappeared)

Suffolk Police believe the airman climbed into a bin which was then tipped into a waste lorry. (Pictured: Police carried out two searches of a 120-acre landfill site at Milton, Cambridgeshire, over 27 weeks in 2017, but found no sign of Mr McKeague’s body after sifting through 9,000 tons of rubbish)

Nigel Parsley, senior coroner for Suffolk, said that ‘reasons why alternative theories were ruled out by police’ will form part of the scope of the inquest, to be held in the presence of a jury at a date to be fixed.

He told a pre-inquest review hearing today: ‘I’m very minded this will not become an inquiry into the police investigation.

‘There has already been an independent review of the police investigation. The inquest is an inappropriate place for a further review.’

An independent review of the police investigation was completed by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit in 2017. 


Friday’s hearing in Ipswich was attended remotely by Mr McKeague’s mother Nicola Urquhart (right, in 2017), while his father Martin McKeague, and his wife Trisha, attended in person

Mr McKeague was reported missing at 3.42pm on September 26 by colleagues at RAF Honington and no trace of him has been found. He is believed to have climbed into a bin (similar to these industrial Biffa bins in the Brentgovel Street area) to seek shelter following a night out

It concluded that the force completed a ‘thorough’ investigation and explored all reasonable lines of inquiry.

Mr Parsley said the inquest will be listed for four weeks, with September 20 suggested as a provisional start date.

A further pre-inquest review hearing is to be listed ahead of the full inquest on a date to be fixed administratively.

Friday’s hearing in Ipswich was attended remotely by Mr McKeague’s mother Nicola Urquhart, while his father Martin McKeague, and his wife Trisha, attended in person.

Pictured: April Oliver, the girlfriend of Corrie McKeague, with their daughter Ellie-Louise Oliver

Timeline: How Corrie McKeague vanished without a trace after a night out in Suffolk 

2016 

Friday, September 23

Corrie McKeague drives into Bury St Edmunds and meets up with RAF colleagues to go drinking and socialising. He drinks so much he is asked to leave Flex nightclub and is later seen asleep in a doorway with a takeaway. 

Saturday, September 24

3.25am – CCTV footage shows him entering a horseshoe-shaped area in Brentgovel Street, behind a Superdrug and a Greggs shop, where there are several industrial waste bins.

4.19am –  A Biffa waste lorry empties the Greggs bin and the bin is recorded as weighing 116kg (18st 3lb). This is around 70kg to 80kg (12st 8lb) more than its average weight.

The rubbish is taken to a transfer station at Red Lodge. Records suggest it then went to the Milton landfill site, but police have not discounted it being taken elsewhere. 

3.42pm – Mr McKeague’s colleagues at RAF Honington report him missing.

2017

Two searches of a 120-acre landfill site are held at Milton in Cambridgeshire over the course of 27 weeks. Officials sift through 9,000 tons of rubbish but find no sign of Mr McKeague. 

The first search is called off in July and the second resumes in October and lasts approximately six weeks. 

2018

March

Suffolk Police announce his disappearance has been moved to the major investigation cold case team. 

October

Suffolk Police say they believe Mr McKeague’s body is at a landfill site in Cambridgeshire. 

2019

On the third anniversary of Mr McKeague’s disappearance, his mother, Nicola Urquhart, says she has accepted her son is dead – but adds that she hasn’t given up hope of finding his remains. 

2020

Thursday, August 27 

A murder inquiry is launched after human remains are found in two bin bags in the River Stour in Sudbury. A post-mortem examination carried out by the Home Office proved inconclusive. Mr McKeague’s mother thought the remains could have been her missing son’s.

Friday, September 4 

Police confirm the remains found in Sudbury were not Mr McKeague’s. 

Thursday, November 5 

Chief Coroner of England and Wales confirms that he has directed that an inquest be held. 

Friday, November 11

Mr McKeague’s inquest in Ipswich is opened and adjourned. Marina Ericson, Temporary Chief Superintendent of Suffolk Police, tells the hearing it is believed that Mr McKeague climbed into a bin which was emptied into a waste lorry where he subsequently died.

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