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Missing airman Corrie McKeague who was last seen in Bury St Edmunds punched nightclub manager, inquest at Suffolk Coroner's Court told





RAF gunner Corrie McKeague punched a nightclub manager in an incident months before he vanished on a night out in 2016, an inquest has heard.

The airman, of Dunfermline, Fife, was 23 when he disappeared in the early hours of September 24, 2016, after a night out in Bury St Edmunds.

Police believe Corrie, who was stationed at RAF Honington, climbed into a bin which was then tipped into a waste lorry.

CCTV footage of Corrie McKeague at the top of St Andrew's Street North on September 24, 2016. Picture: Suffolk Police.
CCTV footage of Corrie McKeague at the top of St Andrew's Street North on September 24, 2016. Picture: Suffolk Police.

He had been asked to leave Flex nightclub in the early hours, with his last sighting on CCTV at 3.25am entering the 'horseshoe' area near Brentgovel Street in Bury.

Ben Manning, general manager of Flex, told an inquest at Suffolk Coroner's Court, in Ipswich, earlier today that Corrie had punched him in the face in February 2016.

“Someone came in and said there was a fight out in the smoking area,” he said.

Corrie McKeague went missing after a night out in September 24, 2016.
Corrie McKeague went missing after a night out in September 24, 2016.

“I went out there along with the door staff, separated it, I got punched by Corrie at the time then they got taken out.

“Police said later on that night he got arrested for drunk and disorderly.

“Police said ‘do you want to press charges’, I said yes.

“He came along to apologise the next week, I dropped the charges.”

The last confirmed sighting of Corrie McKeague - taken from the 3.25am CCTV footage of him in Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds, on Saturday September 24. Picture: Suffolk Police.
The last confirmed sighting of Corrie McKeague - taken from the 3.25am CCTV footage of him in Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds, on Saturday September 24. Picture: Suffolk Police.

Mr Manning said it 'wasn’t personal, I think I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time'.

He added Corrie said he was taking antidepressants at the time he apologised.

He said he had been behind Corrie, and Corrie was facing away from him, adding: “I don’t think he intended to hit me.”

Martin McKeague, the father of Corrie McKeague, and his wife Trisha, previously attended the opening of the inquest at Suffolk Coroner’s Court. Picture: Sam Russell/PA.
Martin McKeague, the father of Corrie McKeague, and his wife Trisha, previously attended the opening of the inquest at Suffolk Coroner’s Court. Picture: Sam Russell/PA.

He said he suffered a slight bruise to his right cheek.

Mr Manning said he barred Corrie from the premises for a month 'for hitting a personal licence holder' and Corrie 'shook my hand and went off'.

He said there were no further incidents.

Mr Manning said he saw Mr McKeague on the night he disappeared, as the serviceman arrived at the nightclub.

“He gave me a hug, said ‘I love you’ in a slurred way, I asked if he was drunk and he said yes,” he said.

Asked how drunk he thought Corrie was, Mr Manning replied: “On a scale of one to 10 I would say seven.”

Questioned by lawyer Adam Walker, for Corrie's mother Nicola Urquhart, why Corrie was allowed in, Mr Manning said: “He wasn’t stumbling about and he was just happy and cheerful and there were no problems with him other than that time in February.

“There seemed no reason not to (let him in to the nightclub).”

The inquest also heard evidence from James Dilnot, who was security manager at Wetherspoons pub, in Bury, where Corrie had been before going to Flex.

Mr Dilnot said it seemed Corrie was drunk to him, but that he was not intoxicated to the point he did not know where he was going.

He said he had a roughly 20 minute conversation with Corrie before he left the pub for Flex, but it was 'just a general basic chat, just having a laugh'.

Mr Dilnot added: "The night he (Corrie) went missing he seemed fine, full of smiles.

"He would always have a smile on his face, I would never see him looking down."

Earlier today, the inquest heard how Corrie said he'd had a bad day at work to a supermarket worker the day before his last sighting.

The inquest heard yesterday Corrie developed a 'significant binge-drinking problem' after his friend died on a train line when he was a teenager.

The inquest continues.

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