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Summary

  1. Latest updates as police confirm they have stopped searching for missing RAF airman Corrie Mckeague at a landfill site
  2. The search of the site in Milton, near Cambridge, was ceased this afternoon
  3. Police still believe he is in the tip but have failed to find him
  4. Corrie went missing after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, last September
  5. It is believed he fell asleep in a bin, which was then taken to landfill
  6. His mum says she's 'devastated' at today's news, while dad thanks volunteers who searched for him
  7. "Without anything further to tell us where he might be... the search cannot continue," police told a press conference
  8. Updates on Friday, 21 July 2017

Live Reporting

By Philippa Taylor and Adam Jinkerson

All times stated are UK

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Thanks for following us as we covered the news that police have stopped searching a landfill site for the body of missing Suffolk airman Corrie Mckeague.

Scroll down to see all the updates from this afternoon's press conference and reaction from the gunner's family.

How have the local newspapers reported today's announcement?

The disappearance of Corrie Mckeague has been leading news in the local press for months and today is no exception.

  • The Bury Free Press covered today's press conference, writing that Suffolk Police had commissioned a review of its work to see if anything further could be done to trace Corrie.
  • The East Anglian Daily Times says the search team put down their tools this afternoon after searching through more than 6,500 tonnes of waste at Milton landfill site.
  • Meanwhile, the Cambridge News says police will now search for Corrie in incinerated waste that may have come from the area where the 23-year-old went missing.

Corrie's mum 'beyond devastated'

Nicola Urquhart has just been speaking to BBC Look East.

She said disappointment "doesn't come close" at the decision by Suffolk Police to halt its search of the landfill site at Milton for her son - missing RAF serviceman Corrie Mckeague.

Nicola Urquhart
BBC

She said: "I'm so angry, I'm beyond devastated that they've [Suffolk Police] misled me, that my sons, our family, have all believed that this would come to a natural end, that either they'd find Corrie in the landfill or they can then tell us he's not there.

"It was only on Wednesday they told me they were going to do a press release and they would be saying 'we think he's still in there but we're not searching anywhere', and that's not what they've told the press today but that is what they've told me.

"I can live with Corrie never being found - any parent would just find a way of coping with that and dealing with that, but that's on the back of knowing that everything's been done to try and find them - people go missing and just don't get found so I would find a way of dealing with that.

"I do not want to be anybody that criticises the police ever, but what they've done is wrong."

Det Supt Katie Elliott earlier told press all evidence suggested Corrie was still at the landfill site, but "without anything further to tell us where he might be, on such a vast site, the search cannot continue".

Social media 'phenomenon' of Corrie Mckeague disappearance

The disappearance of Corrie Mckeague has been a social media phenomenon.

Each year, an estimated 250,000 people go missing.

But very few of them generate such long-lasting and widespread interest as the 23-year-old airman.

Corrie Mckeague
Suffolk Police

Almost 130,000 people have followed the Find Corrie Facebook page, with followers posting well-wishes for Nicola Urquhart, and sons Darroch and Makeyan, and their own theories as to what may have happened.

In December, Mrs Urquhart was photographed searching woodland for any trace of her son, at a point in the investigation when it was thought he might have tried to walk home.

The picture formed part of a Facebook post which read: "This mum is searching forest undergrowth for her child.

"Her baby boy. Though an adult, he's her baby still.... It could be one of us parents looking for our child instead."

It was shared 270,000 times and attracted almost 28,000 comments. Comments were still being posted in April.

Nicola Urqhart searching undergrowth
BBC

It was not just on social media that the interest in Mr Mckeague's disappearance became apparent.

Artist Ruddy Muddy sketched an image of Mr Mckeague into dirt on the back of his van, baby blue-coloured wristbands displaying "Find Corrie" were distributed, car stickers were made and posters seen throughout East Anglia and beyond.

Both Mrs Urquhart and Forbes McKenzie, from the hired data experts, put his appeal down to the fact that he was an airman, and the British public are "good at getting behind the forces".

Plus, they said, he was a good-looking boy - a "capable, fit young man who should be able to look after himself", according to his mother.

Mr McKenzie also points to the "feeling of injustice that not enough was getting done" in order to try to find him.

Image of Corrie on back of van
Barry Minns
Corrie Mckeague: Key events in search for missing airman
Corrie Mckeague went missing after a night out in Bury St Edmunds in September 2016.

Why was the landfill site searched for Corrie?

As part of the search for Corrie Mckeague, his mobile phone was traced and it was discovered it had been in Bury St Edmunds in the early hours of Saturday, 24 September, but then moved to the Barton Mills area.

Police searched a bin lorry, after finding its route matched the movements of the phone, but released it after it was found not to contain Corrie's lost phone.

Search at landfill site
Paper Pix

After thousands of frames of CCTV footage were trawled through, with no evidence that Corrie had left the area, questions began to be asked about whether he had been in one of the bins taken to a landfill site.

Initially, the weight of the lorry's load was reported to have been 15kg (33lb) - too light to have contained Mr Mckeague, and so the landfill site wasn't searched.

But in early March, it was revealed the load weighed significantly more than that - more than 100kg (15st 10lb).

The search of the landfill site at Milton began on 6 March, after a month of preparation of the area for the search team.

Early stages of the investigation into Corrie's disappearance

Airman Corrie Mckeague was first reported missing when he failed to turn up for parade at RAF Honington on Monday, 26 September.

It was thought he may have attempted to walk back to the airbase 10 miles away after a night out in Bury St Edmunds.

Horseshoe area of Bury St Edmunds
BBC

A couple of days later, CCTV footage was released showing the gunner in the Brentgovel Street area of the town in the early hours of Saturday, 24 September.

A search was subsequently carried out on the road between the base and Bury St Edmunds.

Search of roadside
BBC

But there was no trace of him leaving an area in Brentgovel Street known as the "horseshoe".

Andy King, chairman of Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue, who'd been enlisted to help the police, said: "We always start looking in the place they were last seen, and in Corrie's case, that was the 'horseshoe'."

Mr King continued: "We did a very detailed search of a 200 metre [656ft] radius around the area, but it turned up absolutely nothing.

"That's not unusual, though, so then we continued to plan our search and come up with possibilities of what might have happened to him."

Diagram showing area known as the horseshoe
BBC
Corrie Mckeague: Anguish as search for airman's body ends
Corrie Mckeague's mother, Nicola Urquhart, said she had felt police would find him.

Corrie Mckeague's mum 'devastated' after search called off

The mother of missing RAF airman Corrie Mckeague says she is devastated that the search is going to be called off without finding him.

Nicola Urquhart told the BBC that although she believes the search teams have put in a lot of effort, she "tried really hard" to put her trust in them.

Nicola Urquhart
BBC

"There's a lot that I agree with that's been said, like the amount of work that's been carried out," she said.

"I do believe that if Corrie was there, they were going to find him.

"To say I'm devastated that they're now saying they think he's still in there, but they're going to stop searching... I can't begin the explain how that makes me feel."

Corrie's father thanks those who've supported the search

Martin Mckeague, writing on his Facebook page, has thanked people who have "stood up and supported" the efforts to search for Corrie "and who have stayed strong and not fallen for the erroneous suggestions of any criminal activity in the search for my son, or the cynicism, gossip, and speculation in the media that has unfortunately littered this process from day one".

"It has been difficult enough without all of that," he said.

Martin and Trisha Mckeague
BBC

Mr Mckeague (pictured during a previous interview) said the family in Scotland has never doubted the police's reasoning for, nor the timing of the search of the Milton landfill site.

"The police have prioritised their efforts based on facts, not speculation," he said.

"And anyone who suggests otherwise is, in our opinion, committing the ultimate act of disrespect – it's like a slap in the face to the people who have given so much of themselves in the search for Corrie."

Corrie Mckeague 'search cannot continue'

In a press conference, Suffolk Police confirmed the search at Milton landfill for missing RAF airman will end.

"Without anything further to tell us where he might be, on such a vast site, the search cannot continue," said Det Supt Katie Elliott.

Police confirm that the search at Milton landfill for missing RAF airman, will end.

Mckeague family 'devastated', says father

The father of Corrie Mckeague says the Mckeague family in Scotland is "devastated" by today's announcement that the search of the landfill site in Milton has come to an end.

Martin Mckeague
BBC

Writing on his Facebook page, Martin Mckeague continues: "At no point did we think that the search of the site would end this way, and as all the evidence tells us that Corrie is somewhere in that landfill site, we are heartbroken at the thought that we may not be able to bring Corrie home together.

"But we are, as a family, somehow going to get through this together.

"We would like to express our deepest thanks to the volunteers from the Norfolk and Suffolk police for their heroic efforts over the past 20 weeks in searching the landfill site at Milton for my son.

"We know that these volunteers have done everything possible to try and find my son, and we will owe them a debt of gratitude for the rest of our lives."

Police still confident missing airman is in landfill

Alex Dunlop

BBC Look East

Essentially we came to the press conference today to be told one of two things; either that the search was continuing for Corrie Mckeague, or that it was ending.

They have now called off that search as there is no trace of him - essentially the trail at Milton landfill has gone cold.

They've gone through 6,500 tonnes of rubbish over a 20-week period, extended from an initial 10 weeks.

Ten months after he disappeared, in an investigation that's cost £1.2m, they are no closer to knowing how he disappeared than at the end of September 2016.

Alex Dunlop
BBC

I was at the landfill when they started the search and police said at the time they were confident of finding him.

Suffolk Police have said they are commissioning a review of the work that they have completed since the start of the investigation to see if anything can be done and that they remain open-minded.

Police are still confident that his remains are in the landfill, but they are saying this is not a criminal investigation.

Searching the landfill is effectively a new science for police because as they've been digging down they've found material has shifted. They say they have found material that's relevant to the time and the place Corrie disappeared, but then the trail has gone cold.

Initially there was consternation that they didn't search the site from the outset, but the police said they were told by the bin company that the bin weighed 11kg (1.7st) over. They then found out five months later it was 116kg, more than 15st - the weight of a human body.

Q&A session reveals possibility of incineration

At a question and answer session following the statement by Det Supt Katie Elliott, she said: "There were other bins in the area [of Brentgovel Street in Bury St Edmunds] and some of the bins in the 'horseshoe' area were incinerated and not taken to landfill.

"The waste that went through the incinerator is preserved in order that we can review that to see if there's anything that might give us any information about Corrie."

Corrie Mckeague
Suffolk Police

Ms Elliott said the decision to halt the search of the landfill site was "a big milestone", adding: "Every hope has been on finding Corrie at this landfill site and I can only imagine that it must be devastating not to be able to find him.

"I had every confidence that we were going to find Corrie in the landfill site."

Corrie Mckeague search 'complex, systematic, comprehensive and thorough'

Police say the search to find missing airman Corrie Mckeague has been "complex, systematic, comprehensive and thorough".

"All the information we have still points to the fact that Corrie was transported from the 'horseshoe' area in the lorry," said Det Supt Katie Elliott.

The search to find Corrie Mckeague has been 'thorough', say police

'We expanded Corrie search'

Suffolk Police said the search for Corrie Mckeague was expanded several times in response to new evidence.

The search for Corrie Mckeague was extended, Det Supt Katie Elliott said

'Unprecedented search' for Corrie Mckeague

Det Supt Katie Elliott, of Suffolk police, said the search for Corrie Mckeague was "unprecedented" and based on "compelling evidence".

A police force said its search for Corrie Mckeague was "unprecedented"
Corrie Mckeague: RAF airman's movements in Bury St Edmunds
Corrie Mckeague was last seen on a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

The part played by CCTV in the search for Corrie

Police say the initial CCTV work gave detectives searching for missing RAF serviceman Corrie Mckeague a good picture of who was in the area at the relevant times.

They obtained a number of witness statements which corroborated each other.

CCTV image of Corrie 2
Suffolk Police

Speaking at the press conference, Det Supt Katie Elliott continued: "Police have been looking at what may have happened, including whether Corrie got into the bin himself or whether it may have been physically possible for someone to have lifted someone of Corrie's build into the bin, between the last confirmed sighting at 3.25am and the bin lorry collection around 4.18am, and whether there could have been an accident or any criminal activity.

"Officers have also looked at Corrie's previous behaviour and have spoken to friends and colleagues about his actions during and following a night out.

"Suffolk Police have commissioned a review of the work completed since the start of the investigation to see if anything further can be done to trace Corrie McKeague.

"We remain open-minded and should this review reveal further lines of enquiry that will help us find Corrie we will pursue them vigorously."

'6,500 tonnes of waste searched'

Police say they have gone through 6,500 tonnes of waste in search for Corrie Mckeague at Milton landfill lasting 20 weeks.

The search, which began on 6 March 2017, saw police look through rubbish that arrived at the site between 16 September and 3 October.

No trace of the missing RAF airman was found.

Police say they have searched 6,500 tonnes of waste in hunt for Corrie Mckeague

'Extremely sad' that Corrie hasn't been found - police commissioner

The police and crime commissioner for Suffolk, Tim Passmore, says in a statement: "It is extremely sad that the mystery surrounding Corrie's whereabouts has not been resolved.

"My thoughts are with Mrs Urquhart [Corrie's mother] and Mr McKeague and their families; I cannot even begin to understand what they have been going through since their son's disappearance."

Corrie Mckeague
Suffolk Police

Mr Passmore continued: "The officers that have been involved in this search have worked tirelessly for months, in very difficult circumstances.

"I know they will be disappointed not to have found Corrie, but I know that the constabulary has done all it can locate him and I'd like to express my thanks, on behalf of the communities I serve, to them all.

"This is the biggest missing person enquiry that the constabulary has undertaken."

Search has been one of the 'most complex' of its type

The search of the site at Milton near Cambridge has been "one of the biggest and most complex searches of a landfill site in the country", say police.

"This search process has been reviewed as it has been carried out and what we have learned and the expertise gathered during the search is now being called upon by other constabularies."

Milton site
BBC

'Nothing to support any theory other than that Corrie was in the bin'

Speaking at a press conference earlier this afternoon, Det Supt Katie Elliott said the search for Corrie Mckeague at Milton landfill site had been very thorough.

Corrie Mckeague
Suffolk Police

She said: "The investigation behind-the-scenes hasn't stood still while the search has been carried out, but all the information we have still points to the fact that Corrie was transported from the 'horseshoe' area in the bin lorry.

"Having been through all of the possibilities in detail, there is nothing to support any theory other than that Corrie was in the bin.

"There are no further sightings of him on CCTV to suggest he left the area and we have explored the other possibilities as to how he left - such as being taken from the area by someone - and there is no evidence to support that this is the case.

"We know that Corrie's phone travelled away from Bury St Edmunds at the same time as the bin lorry that collected waste from Brentgovel Street.

"The theory that Corrie was in the bin that was emptied into the bin lorry shortly after he was last seen is strengthened by credible information that we have obtained through our enquiries, that Corrie had been known to go to sleep in rubbish following a night out.

"We've explored every other reasonable hypothesis - and there is nothing to support any other explanation."

Search for Corrie Mckeague called off: Press conference round-up

Press conference
Chris Radburn
  • Search called off from 15:00 today
  • Police contacted Milton landfill site near Cambridge on Monday, 3 October 2016 - a week after Corrie was reported missing, with search of the site beginning on 6 March 2017
  • 6,500 tonnes of waste sifted through in "unprecedented search" lasting 20 weeks - about a 14th of the whole amount of waste the site accepts in a year
  • No trace of missing RAF airman or any trace of his clothing or mobile phone
  • Items including newspapers and other material from September 2016, when Corrie went missing, have been found - including those that indicate they have come from Bury St Edmunds
  • Several mobile phones, footwear and items of clothing have been found and each one of these items has been checked to ensure it did not belong to Corrie
  • "All the work we have carried out, particularly around the weight of the bin lorry collection, points to Corrie being taken to the landfill site," say police
  • "The search has been complex, systematic, thorough and comprehensive. Throughout the process the work being completed has been reviewed by national experts."
Corrie Mckeague with his mum Nicola Urquhart

Jodie Halford

BBC News

The story of the young airman who vanished on a night out baffled the nation - what happened to Corrie Mckeague?

Read more

Key places in Corrie Mckeague search

The search for Corrie Mckeague has taken place over two counties - Suffolk, where he went missing, and Cambridgeshire, where it is suspected he ended up.

Corrie map
BBC

He was a gunner at RAF Honington and went missing after a night out in Bury St Edmunds - the nearest big town.

It is believed he fell asleep in a bin and the refuse lorry took him to Milton landfill site, near Cambridge, 28 miles away.

Corrie Mckeague: Police call off search for missing RAF airman
Police confirm that the search for missing RAF airman Corrie Mckeague is to be ended.

Why the search for Corrie has been called off

Det Supt Katie Elliott explained the reason for calling off the search of the landfill site at Milton for Corrie Mckeague, saying: "We have searched over 6,500 tonnes of waste, excavating a huge area.

"Without anything further to tell us where he might be on such a vast site the search cannot continue.

"Officers have been finding items such as newspapers and other material that have September 2016 dates on them.

"This is the time that Corrie went missing.

"Some items have been clearly identifiable as coming from Bury St Edmunds and this has confirmed that we have been searching in the right place, however none of these items have had any link to Corrie.

"We have also found items such as mobile phones, footwear and clothing and each one of these items has been checked to ensure it did not belong to Corrie.

"We have completed the search of the area where we know waste was deposited in this period.

"In fact, we have searched an area that is larger than was originally designated.

"The work was initially extended to include areas containing additional waste dated in the correct time-frame and was further extended in response to new information regarding the location of further relevant waste.

"Sadly, we have not found Corrie or any trace of his clothing or mobile phone."

Corrie Mckeague
Suffolk Police

Press conference ends

And that's it... we'll bring you a round-up very shortly.

"It's never been about money this investigation," the conference hears.

'Not a criminal investigation at this time'

"I don't suspect that it must be foul play... all the evidence at this time points to Corrie being in that bin lorry going to the landfill site," police say.

Police remain 'open-minded'

Police say they have commissioned a review of the work completed since the start of the investigation to see if anything further can be done to trace Corrie Mckeague.

"We remain open-minded and should this review reveal further lines of enquiry that will help us find Corrie we will pursue them vigorously."

Corrie Mckeague search
Paper Pix

Police have been 'absolutely committed' to finding Corrie

Police say they've been "absolutely committed to finding Corrie and none of us wanted to be in this position, where we are unable to provide the answer".

Corrie Mckeague press conference: What we know so far

  • Police say the search at Milton landfill is set to be completed this afternoon
  • Search is in its 20th week - 10 weeks longer than first planned
  • The search was directed by information and intelligence found by police
  • Waste from the correct timeframe of Corrie's disappearance has been found at the site - with some waste indicating that it had come from Bury St Edmunds
  • Over 6,500 tonnes of waste searched
  • Police ended up searching a bigger area than was first intended
  • "All information points to Corrie being at Milton landfill and there is nothing to support any theory other than Corrie was in the bin," say police

Officers have been 'very focussed' on finding Corrie

Det Supt Katie Elliott says officers carrying out the search have been working extremely hard "in difficult circumstances".

Cost of investigation revealed

Police say £1.2m has been spent on the investigation.

Corrie Mckeague investigation was not just at landfill site

The police investigation has continued away from the landfill site while the search has been taking place, the conference hears.

No evidence to support any other theories about Corrie's disappearance

Nothing to support any theory other than that Corrie was transported away from Bury St Edmunds in the bin lorry.

Search area larger than originally designated

No trace of Corrie, his clothing or mobile phone, police say.