Corrie McKeague: RAF gunner was in bin that was tipped into waste lorry, inquest concludes


The airman, of Dunfermline, Fife, was 23 when he disappeared in the early hours of September 24 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

He was last seen on CCTV at 3.25am entering a service area behind a Greggs shop. His body has never been found, despite extensive searches.

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On Tuesday, an inquest jury recorded in a narrative conclusion that Mr McKeague died at approximately 4.20am in Bury St Edmunds as a result of “compression asphyxia in association with multiple injuries”, jurors recorded.

Corrie McKeague was 23 when he vanished in the early hours of September 24, 2016.

In their conclusion, they said Mr McKeague’s “death was contributed to by impaired judgment due to alcohol consumption”.

They said there were “ineffective bin locks”, an “ineffective search of the bin” before it was tipped, and “poor visibility through a Perspex viewing window on the lorry”.

Members of Mr McKeague’s family, including his mother, father, two brothers and his daughter’s mother, were in court as the jury returned its findings.

His mother, Nicola Urquhart, wiped tears from her eyes as she left the room at the end of the hearing, and his father, Martin McKeague, was tearful as he spoke to press outside the court alongside his partner Trisha.

Suffolk’s senior coroner, Nigel Parsley, praised the family’s “quiet dignity” through the inquest.

He described Corrie as a “charming, compassionate” young man “living life to the full”.

Mr Parsley expressed concerns about viewing panels, used to see inside the back of bin lorries, and said he would write to the British Standards Institute, bin lorry manufacturer Dennis Eagle and waste firm Biffa about these concerns.

He said he would also order a prevention of future deaths report in respect of “ineffective locks on bins”, writing to the Container Handling Equipment Manufacturers Association and Biffa.

Mr Parsley said that he would also write to Biffa about its current behavior observation form and the risk of people in bins.

The inquest, in Ipswich, was earlier told that Mr McKeague, who was stationed at RAF Honington, had slept in a bin before.

He had also slept under bin bags on a previous night out, using them “like a blanket”, and was a heavy sleeper when drunk, the hearing was told.

He once downed a bottle of wine in 17 seconds, according to a friend, and was described by his former RAF line manager as a “nightmare on the drink”.

Mr McKeague was seen asleep in a shop doorway earlier on September 24 before he awoke and walked to the service area where he was last seen.

Waste firm Biffa initially told police the weight of the bin was 11kg (1st 10lbs) but it was later recorded as 116kg (18st 3lbs).

The force said the movement of Mr McKeague’s mobile phone mirrored the movement of the waste lorry that collected the bin from the service area where he was last seen.

Mr McKeague was not seen on CCTV leaving the area on foot.

His father, Martin McKeague, said after the ruling that he hopes his son can “finally be left to rest in peace”, with the inquest shining “a new light on the truth for everyone”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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