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Investigation into missing RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague to be stood down and passed to cold case team

PUBLISHED: 08:46 26 March 2018 | UPDATED: 17:00 26 March 2018

Nicola Urquhart, left, with her son Corrie McKeague. Picture: MCKEAGUE FAMILY

Nicola Urquhart, left, with her son Corrie McKeague. Picture: MCKEAGUE FAMILY

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The inquiry into the disappearance of RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague will be stood down and passed to a cold case team.

The airman, based at RAF Honington, was 23 when he was last seen walking through Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in September 2016, after a night out with friends.

Police conducted two searches of a landfill site at Milton near Cambridge last year, with the first search lasting 20 weeks and the second, lasting seven weeks, concluding in December.

No trace of Corrie was found.

Corrie McKeague in a picture uploaded by his mother. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDCorrie McKeague in a picture uploaded by his mother. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

It is thought he may have climbed into a waste bin and was taken away by a bin lorry, prompting the landfill search.

MORE: Home Office to pay £800,000 towards cost of Corrie search

Suffolk police says detectives in the case have reached the point where there are no realistic lines of enquiry left to pursue.

The force stressed that the case will remain open and move to the major investigation cold case team, and that any credible new information will be followed up by officers.

Police conducted two searches at the Milton landfill site in Cambridgeshire, lasting a total of 27 weeks. Pictures: GREGG BROWNPolice conducted two searches at the Milton landfill site in Cambridgeshire, lasting a total of 27 weeks. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

A statement from Suffolk Constabulary said: “Having been through all realistic possibilities in detail over the past 18 months since Corrie went missing in Bury St Edmunds on September 24, 2016, there is nothing to suggest any foul play or third party involvement.

“Since November last year police have been re-examining the evidence relating to all realistic theories to identify whether there is anything else that could be done to establish what could have happened to Corrie.

“However, this ‘mature assessment’ of all the evidence still points to Corrie being transported from the ‘horseshoe’ area in a bin lorry and ultimately taken to the Milton landfill site.”

Tim Passmore has announced the Home Office will contribute to the cost of the Corrie McKeague search. Picture: ARCHANTTim Passmore has announced the Home Office will contribute to the cost of the Corrie McKeague search. Picture: ARCHANT

Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said: “It is extremely disappointing that we have not been able to find Corrie. I can only imagine the strain Corrie’s family have been under over the past 18 months and I thank them for their patience and understanding.

“While the investigation has drawn to a natural conclusion we will continue to work with the family to provide answers to their questions and help them understand what may have happened.

“Since Corrie disappeared, police have been exploring all proportionate and relevant lines of enquiry.

“We have now reached a point where we are unable to make any further progress, and have gone as far as we realistically can with the information we have. If any new, credible and proportionate enquiries relating to Corrie’s disappearance emerge we will pursue them.”

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Megicks, from Suffolk Constabulary, said: “Saddened as I am that we have not found Corrie, I have absolute confidence in the way the investigation was conducted.

“The major investigation team inquiry has been reviewed at various points by senior officers within the constabulary and external experts, including the East Midlands Special Operations Unit.

“The unit’s report concludes police have conducted a thorough and detailed investigation, and explored all reasonable lines of enquiry. It also endorses the primary hypothesis that Corrie ended up in the waste disposal process.”

The force added that Corrie’s family has been informed.

Corrie McKeague: Eight Key Facts

1. More than 1,500 people have been spoken to during inquiry.

2. More than 2,000 hours of CCTV have been looked at.

3. A total of 529 statements have been taken.

4. The estimated size of the area searched outside of Milton landfill (i.e. open land searched etc.) Total square miles searched 20.4 miles + road 6.5 miles

5. Size of Milton landfill site: The entire landfill site is set in 71.2 hectares. The area that was being used to take waste during September 2016 was an area known as Cell 22. Cell 22 is approximately 14 hectares in size.

6. Size of first area searched in Cell 22: Phase 1 06/03/17 - 21/07/17 20 weeks total 6,604 tonnes

7. Size of second area searched in Cell 22: Phase 2 23/10/17 - 11/12/17 7 weeks 1 day 2,867.5 tonnes

8. The search team on the landfill site consisted of a Police Search Adviser lead, Police Search Adviser team leader and eight Licensed Search Officers at any time per week.

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