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Corrie McKeague’s mum says new information suggests he didn’t climb into bin and is NOT in landfill

PUBLISHED: 10:00 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:54 31 August 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 mother of missing RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague says new information has come to light that “changes everything” in the search for her son.

Nicola Urquhart says Corrie could have walked out of the area he was last seen or left in a vehicle as CCTV was only collected in the immediate vicinity up to midday.

It is nearly two years since Corrie, who was based at RAF Honington, was last seen entering an area known as the ‘horseshoe’ in Bury St Edmunds, in September 2016, after a night out with friends.

The theory that he had climbed into a bin and had been transported to a waste site led police to conduct two extensive searches of a landfill at Milton near Cambridge last year, lasting 27 weeks in total.

• Read Suffolk police’s response to the latest claims here

Corrie McKeague on CCTV outside The Grapes pub in Bury St Edmunds Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYCorrie McKeague on CCTV outside The Grapes pub in Bury St Edmunds Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

In a lengthy statement on the Find Corrie Facebook group, Mrs Urquhart said: “Initially I was told by the RAF that no one would have been able to leave this area [Horsehoe] without being captured on this CCTV. The senior investigating officer (SIO) then confirmed this fact.

“We have now been told – on Friday 24th August 2018 – that this is not accurate.

“Corrie could have left in a vehicle after 7am and could have walked out in any direction after midday.

“The reason for this is the CCTV was only collected in the immediate area up to midday.

Corrie McKeague and April Oliver - photo courtesy of April OliverCorrie McKeague and April Oliver - photo courtesy of April Oliver

“After 7am not one of the huge number of vehicles in the area have been identified or traced, this is why he could leave in any of these vehicles and there was no CCTV collected in this area after noon – this is why Corrie could have walked out.”

A search from Bury St Edmunds to RAF Honington was carried out in the weeks following Corrie’s disappearance, but Mrs Urquhart believes other areas need searching.

She said: “We know that when Corrie went missing there was a massive search carried out from Bury to Honington this search covered the area that if a person was to walk the police have guessed – slightly more to it than a simple guess, I am using simple terms – which would be most likely.

“Suffolk MIT [Major Investigation Team] have drawn a line of the most direct way to walk “as the crow flies”. This area has been searched.

Corrie McKeague press conference in Bury St Edmunds in 2016. Left to right: acting superintendent Kim Warner, mother Nicola Urquhart, brother Darroch McKeague Picture: GREGG BROWNCorrie McKeague press conference in Bury St Edmunds in 2016. Left to right: acting superintendent Kim Warner, mother Nicola Urquhart, brother Darroch McKeague Picture: GREGG BROWN

“However, when I have been with Corrie, including the week before he disappeared he drove from Honington to Bury on each occasion by driving along the A134 and along Green Lane.

“The search for Corrie walking back to Honington only covers the right-hand side fields of this road with only the verge on the other side being searched. There have been a couple of other areas searched on this side but the majority has not been searched passed the standard search when searching a road.”

Mrs Urquhart, who is critical of Suffolk police throughout the post, added that she believes that Corrie was never in the landfill.

She said: The entire area that had rubbish dumped on it from September 19 when Cell 22 was opened to September 30 when it was closed was searched and rubbish from Bury on the dates that Corrie went missing was found but not one single trace of Corrie or his clothes was found.

Corrie McKeague in his RAF uniformCorrie McKeague in his RAF uniform

“Rubbish was found in Cell 22 from the exact date Corrie went missing and could be confirmed it was from Bury. I believe this all shows without reasonable doubt that Corrie was never in this bin or landfill.”

She added: “I will be looking to have areas searched but this will take time, should I need help again with searching I will ask.

“I would beg anyone that felt they had information but due to the constant messages from the police that Corrie was in a landfill felt it wasn’t relevant to please get in touch with Suffolk police.

“We believe that this new information changes everything.”

Specialist officers searched the Milton landfill site in Cambridgeshire Pictures: GREGG BROWNSpecialist officers searched the Milton landfill site in Cambridgeshire Pictures: GREGG BROWN

Suffolk police has responded following Mrs Urquhart’s statement and the force said that unless “new, realistic and credible information” becomes available, then the investigation is complete.

Nicola Urquhart’s full statement on the Find Corrie Facebook group

The investigation into Corrie has already moved to a cold case, it was only updates to myself and my family that were preventing the full process from taking place.

Myself, Makeyan, Cloe, Darroch and Leah met with Suffolk police on Friday, August 24, 2018, and without this meeting this information would not have come to light. Suffolk MIT have had this information since February 2017.

It is almost two years since Corrie disappeared. To say it has been difficult to get information for myself and my family from Suffolk MIT and make sure the facts and truth gets out to the public has been hard, is one of the biggest understatements I have ever made.

Even though we as a family have never been given all the information that the police have, we have been given substantially more than has been put out in the public.

We have also been given far more information and gone into far more detail than any other person has been given. We have been repeatedly informed no one else asks questions in the depth we do. We also know and the Suffolk police confirmed this, that the Suffolk police have not informed anyone of all the occasions that we have identified their mistakes or pointed out new lines of enquiry or factually incorrect data (the police have taken credit for this on occasion). This is why it appears there are differing versions of the truth being put out in the media.

I can however prove (if required) that what I have said has always been factually correct and was the information I was given at the time.

My concern has always been to find Corrie.

I cannot think of a time when I have had a meeting with Suffolk police and either someone in my family or I have pointed something out or suggested something that at that time Suffolk police have never thought about or noticed themselves.

Our meetings are with the SIO (Senior Investigating Officer) Our first SIO left the case in November 2017 and we were given a new SIO, this has caused substantial confusion and stress for us as a family as every time we stated something we had been told by the previous SIO we would be told the new SIO wasn’t part of that conversation so could not speak for what was said before. I would like to stress that the new SIO has tried extremely hard to provide us with information and it would not have been easy for her either to take over the case half way through.

The reason for saying all this just now though is because our trust has been lost so many times.

I have never stopped trying to work with Suffolk police, I have kept communication going and kept fighting to do all I reasonably can to find my son.

I understand I do not have a forces reputation, staffing, budgets, or most of the issues a police force has when they are carrying out an enquiry.

I am simply a mum looking for her son. I do not have the same restraints they have. They have a very difficult job to do and I understand they simply can’t solve every case or give every family the answers they so desperately need.

The individual rank and file officers that have been part of this investigation have my deepest thanks and appreciation. The officers searching in the landfill carried out an incredibly difficult role and I will forever be in their debt.

I do believe I have only ever made reasonable requests of Suffolk MIT. I have never criticised them without doing everything I possibly can to first resolve the issue, but what comes first every single time for me is the truth and finding Corrie.

As we all know, Corrie walked into the rear loading bay that is known as the horseshoe in Bury St Edmunds, this was at 0324 on Saturday the 24th September 2016. Corrie had been on a night out with colleagues from RAF Honington. Corrie has never been seen again.

We have all been told that CCTV was collected from 0300 to 1600 on the same day and this had been viewed and Corrie was not seen leaving the area of the horseshoe, initially I was told by the RAF that no one would have been able to leave this area without being captured on this CCTV. The SIO then confirmed this fact.

We have now been told. (on Friday 24th August 2018) That this is not accurate.

Corrie could have left in a vehicle after 0700 and could have walked out in any direction after 1200. The reason for this is the CCTV was only collected in the immediate area up to 1200. After 0700 not one of the huge number of vehicles in the area have been identified or traced, this is why he could leave in any of these vehicles and there was no CCTV collected in this area after 1200 this is why Corrie could have walked out.

We also know that when Corrie went missing there was a massive search (predominantly undertaken by SULSAR) carried out from Bury to Honington this search covered the area that if a person was to walk the police have guessed (slightly more to it than a simple guess, I am using simple terms) which would be most likely. Suffolk MIT have drawn a line of the most direct way to walk “as the crow flies”. This area has been searched.

However, when I have been with Corrie, including the week before He disappeared he drove from Honington to Bury on each occasion by driving along the A134 and along Green Ln. April has also confirmed this is the way Corrie would usually drive. (Corrie could drive faster, he was not as likely to get stuck behind traffic on this road, and there were apparently more places to overtake).

The search for Corrie walking back to Honington only covers the right-hand side fields of this road with only the verge on the other side being searched. (there have been a couple of other areas searched on this side but the majority has not been searched passed the standard search when searching a road). This has also been confirmed to me by the SIO on Friday.

Suffolk MIT stated that they thought Corrie had walked back to base initially, this was their strongest line of enquiry, after their searches and no trace of Corrie they felt that something else must have happened. They would not consider the landfill as a reasonable request to be searched as at best they said there was only proof that Corrie’s phone may have gone in the Biffa lorry (Corries phone travelled a short distance in the same direction as the Biffa bin lorry).

Although for a few days the Suffolk MIT did take control of the landfill they then handed it back. I begged the SIO and gold team not to make this decision, (The RAF fought my corner at the Gold meeting), it was far too soon in my opinion. This was not because I ever thought nor did any member of my family or Corrie’s friends ever think it would be because Corrie would climb in the bin himself but that a third party could have been involved and the Suffolk police had not ruled this out. Suffolk police made this decision, in my opinion based solely on the bin weight of 11kg

Early 2017 Suffolk police made the decision to search the landfill. Work was underway to get the landfill ready for the police to start searching when the police then found out that the Biffa bin, we had all been told originally weighed less that 33lb, under 15 kg. (the family were told 11kg) was in fact incorrect and the actual weight was 116kg.

We were told that the heaviest this bin had ever been recorded at was 26kg and that it was now 116 kg was very significant.

Up to this point we never believed that Corrie would have ever willingly climbed into a bin. (Suffolk MIT have 1 statement from a person saying Corrie was drunk and fell asleep on top of black rubbish bags. Falling asleep where you lay, is a world away from climbing into a commercial bin).

A substantial reward had been offered by Colin Davey, in numerous conversations with the police we tried to find a resolution to the single phone line that was currently the only way people could provide information relating to Corrie, (I was constantly being told that members of the public were having great difficulty in leaving messages and when they did they were not getting any response). As this phone was only answered Monday to Friday 9 to 4, It was an answer machine at all other times. I explained the concerns I had in relation to anyone that would perhaps call out with these hours and may not want to leave a message. I asked if even for a very short time it could be a number that was answered by an officer, this was refused. I offered to pay for the officer, for the line or mobile number, this was also refused as the SIO did not think this would happen. With no other option or compromise being offered by the SIO my only option with the full cooperation of Suffolk MIT was agreed. We would use our own numbers.

Every single call was passed on to police, strict guidelines as to how the calls were answered and data recorded and stored was adhered to. All the information on each phone was passed on immediately and was downloaded and MIS provided all this information to Suffolk police.

We had been provided with information about Corrie being put in the Biffa bin. (this call was made to me in the middle of the night, this person had also repeatedly tried to provide the police with this information from the start of the investigation). This was prior to the police decision to search the landfill, it was taken very seriously by the police as very credible.

Given this new information and now being told by Suffolk MIT they had been given the incorrect data about the weight of the bin. I honestly started completely believing the police when they were telling us it was not IF but WHEN they were going to find Corrie in the landfill. They were using language that as a police officer myself I knew must mean they were positive they were going to find Corrie.

The wait each second of each minuet of each day for the phone call was torture. But weeks turned into months, they investigated the information about Corrie being put in a bin and informed me that this had been investigated.

Like everyone I had been so focused on Corrie being found in cell 22 I had not been focusing on other options. This was my mistake.

From the first day, we were told about the new extraordinary weight of the bin I kept asking about average bin weights and how sure they were about this information. Suffolk police informed us they would give us a family update in July 2017 however these updates never started until nearly 2018. This was also after another meeting with the SIO’s where they were telling me they had done all they could yet neither of the SIO’s had any idea about other major lines of enquiry that I had been talking to the previous SIO about for nearly a year. This forced Suffolk police to give us the updates prior to turning the case over to a cold case team, which had been their intention.

Finally, Suffolk MIT showed us the “raw data”, it was not raw data and was fundamentally flawed, I pointed this out at one meeting, they went back checked it again and came back with other information, again I was being told one thing but the information they were showing me was not showing the same as they were telling me. I was asked to forget all this data and they would now show us the correct “raw Data”

On Friday, we were shown this “Raw Data”. Again, it looked to me like an excel spread sheet but as soon as I looked at it I could see that the Biffa bin collected from Greggs was regularly over 100kg. on 1 occasion, it was over 1000kg (this was also on a sat morning and exactly the same bin that was collected the night Corrie disappeared). so, there was nothing exceptional at all in the bin being 116kg.

The most frightening thing though, was yet again the SIO and other staff in the room had never seen this information before. They had no idea this bin ever weighed over 100kg. They had a new average of 33,3kg yet when we counted it up in front of the police the average weight was significantly higher for this bin. (Suffolk MIT had this information for well over a year prior to showing me the data)

The facts, as we understand them are:

An eye witness stating Corrie was standing in the horseshoe at the time of the Biffa lorry picked up the Greggs waste

No forensics, in the Biffa Bin.

No forensics in the Biffa lorry.

No trace of Corrie at Red lodge

No sightings of Corrie at Red lodge during the dropping off process or when the rubbish was then moved within the bay or moved back into the lorry that took it to Milton.

The ENTIRE area that had rubbish dumped on it from the 19th September when Cell 22 was opened to 30th September when it was closed was searched and rubbish from Bury on the dates that Corrie went missing was found but not one single trace of Corrie or his clothes was found.

Rubbish was found in cell 22 from the exact date Corrie went missing and could be confirmed it was from Bury

I believe this all shows without reasonable doubt that Corrie was never in this bin or landfill.

I explained all of this to the SIO of Suffolk MIT on Friday. I asked if they would now search the areas that had not been searched on the route back to Honington. I told the Suffolk police I would be putting this information out to the public as I would be wanting to search. We left believing that the police were still of the opinion that Corrie was taken in the Biffa lorry and they simply didn’t know where he was, but that they would do no more.

An hour or so later I then received urgent texts from my FLO’s- family liaison officers asking for the SIO to be able to call me. I spoke to the SIO who begged me to give her more time to look into this, as she did not understand why she had never seen this information before and she needed time to investigate this. I was informed she would get these answers herself and would fly to Scotland to update me. Would I just give them more time?

Although the only reason for me doing this was to protect Suffolk police again, I agreed, I then heard nothing at all from Suffolk police for four days until I had to threaten to go public with this information again.

The reason I am explaining all this now, and in this way, is because sadly I think Suffolk MIT are trying to cover this up and are more concerned with force reputation than simply admitting they have made a mistake but will now put it right.

I have told the police all this and more. I have begged them to be honest with the public but instead they have chosen to carry on letting the public believe this is a cold case and nothing has been done or is being done now.

We believe that this new information changes everything. Suffolk MIT had finished, they had closed this case and had no intention of doing anything else. The review that had been carried out I believe is very questionable, as they did not highlight these weights either. They also mistakenly believed that Suffolk police based the search of the landfill on the extraordinary weight of 116kg when this was not correct.

I sadly do not have any confidence in the viewing of the CCTV and do believe it is possible that Corrie has been missed leaving the area prior to 0700.

Although many of you may be shocked at this post and now be angry, that is not my intention. I have not covered anywhere close to all the problems my family and I have faced or the times I have kept quiet to protect Suffolk police’s reputation, even though others attacked my reputation I still kept quiet. Sadly again, I feel I have been left no choice.

I am not a mother clutching at straws or refusing to move on. Mistakes have been made, information that changes everything has been overlooked. Corrie is responsible for his own actions, I am not looking for someone to blame for anything Corrie has done himself. But I am looking to be treated as I would treat someone that was in this position, I am asking for honesty, good communication and reasonable lines of enquires to be investigated. If Corrie is not found after that, Myself, my sons and our families will find a way to move on.

We already know it will take some time to investigate this, and have no issue in waiting while clarity is sought. But when Suffolk MIT wish to hide this, (I begged them to put the most insignificant media update out to say they were looking into this, so the public would know they were doing something, so that there would be no need for all of this to happen but it was refused) they are then not accountable to the public as no one even thinks they are doing anything. My purpose in this post is to ensure accountability, let people see we have not given up and this is for good reason. But we simply cannot keep on remaining quiet for the benefit of Suffolk MIT.

I will be looking to have areas searched but this will take time, should I need help again with searching I will ask.

I would beg anyone that felt they had information but due to the constant messages from the police that Corrie was in a landfill felt it wasn’t relevant to please get in touch with Suffolk police.

If you think you saw Corrie at the time he disappeared but feel you were not taken seriously, especially if it is in the areas I have described above, please get in touch with me if you get nowhere with Suffolk Police.

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