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Inquest opens to find out how RAF man Corrie McKeague died in Bury St Edmunds

A Suffolk Police Detective Superindendent has stated that it is likely Corrie McKeague died in transit from a waste bin where he was sleeping after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, to a landfill site.

The RAF Honington airman's disappearance four years ago was the subject of a widespread police appeal, which captured the attention of thousands in the West Suffolk area.

The inquest into his 'tragic' death formally opened this morning with a short hearing at Suffolk Coroners' Court.

Mr McKeague, who grew up in Fife, is said to have died aged 23 on September, 24, 2016, having been last seen around 3.20am. The court proceedings, which were shared via video link, heard he had been drinking with RAF friends.

Detective Superintendent Marina Ericson, who was involved in the operation to find Mr McKeague, was the sole giver of evidence this morning.

She said: "On the evening of Friday, September 23, he drove into Bury St Edmunds where he met up with RAF colleagues to go drinking and socialising.

"He consumed so much alcohol he became very drunk and was asked to leave Flex Nightclub. He was described as being happy and friendly.

"He entered the horseshoe area of Brentgovel Street, and 3.25am was the last time he was known to be alive."

She added that a Biffa waste lorry drove into the precinct at 4.19am to collect the waste from the nearby Greggs outlet. The bin liner weighed 116kg, which was said to be around 70kg more than its average weight.

Suffolk Constabulary has put forward a theory that Mr McKeague slept in a bin that night, which he was said to sometimes do after a night out. This was backed up by records from Mr McKeague's phone, which were showed it moving at the same time the bin lorry completed its round.

Detective Superintendent Marina Ericson, who was part of the operation to find Corrie McKeague, spoke at the inquest opening.
Detective Superintendent Marina Ericson, who was part of the operation to find Corrie McKeague, spoke at the inquest opening.

After trawling through1,100 hours of CCTV footage and searching the Milton landfill site, police finally called off their search on March 26, 2018.

However, it has not been formally determined how Mr McKeague died, and it is hoped the inquest, when it is heard in full, will provide answers.

Senior coroner Nigel Parsley called for a pre-inquest review on Friday, February 5, 2021 - which will precede a full inquest.

He said: "On this evidence I will open an inquest into the death."

"This is a tragic death," he added. "I would like to pass on my condolences to his parents and the rest of Corrie's family and friends."

Mr McKeague is survived by his mother Nicola Urquhart, who attended proceedings, as well has his two brothers and father Martin. He had been a gunner in the RAF and had served for three years.

For more information on how we can report on inquests, click here.