A missing airman is believed to have died after he climbed into an industrial waste bin while drunk on a night out and it was then emptied into a lorry, an inquest has heard.
Corrie McKeague, of Dunfermline, Fife, was 23 when he vanished in the early hours of 24 September 2016 after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
No trace of him has been found but Suffolk’s senior coroner, Nigel Parsley, said McKeague “died in the Suffolk jurisdiction in September 2016”.
The hearing in Ipswich was opened and adjourned on Friday.
Temporary Ch Supt Marina Ericson, of Suffolk police, told the hearing it is believed McKeague climbed into a bin that was emptied into a waste lorry where he subsequently died.
The theory is well-established but has been contested by McKeague’s mother, Nicola Urquhart, a former police officer.
His father, Martin McKeague, accepts the version of events as true and said after Friday’s hearing: “This will put the truth out to the public. There’s no mystery. We’re not finding out any new news here.”
He said his son went into the bin, adding: “The facts and evidence that we’ve been presented with tell us that’s what happened to him.”
Ericson said Corrie McKeague drove into Bury St Edmunds on the evening of Friday 23 September 2016 and met up with RAF colleagues to go drinking and socialising.
“Witnesses state that Corrie consumed so much alcohol through the evening that he became very drunk and was asked to leave Flex nightclub,” she said. “Witnesses also described him as being happy and friendly throughout the evening.”
He was last seen alive at 3.25am, on CCTV footage, entering a horseshoe-shaped area in Brentgovel Street, behind a Superdrug and a Greggs shop, where there were several industrial waste bins.
Ericson said a Biffa waste lorry emptied the Greggs bin at 4.19am, and the bin was recorded as weighing 116kg (18st 3lb).
This was around 70kg to 80kg (12st 8lb) more than its average weight, she said.
“Corrie’s mobile phone, having connected to the internet, provided a signal from this point which mapped the movements of the waste lorry to the Barton Mills roundabout. At that point, the mobile service provider lost the signal.”
McKeague was reported missing at 3.42pm on Monday 26 September by colleagues at RAF Honington.
Ericson continued: “Despite an extensive police-led investigation and search, there has been no proof of life since the last sighting of Corrie at 3.25am on Saturday 24 September 2016.
“It is believed that Corrie, having climbed into the Greggs waste bin located in the area of the horseshoe in Brentgovel Street, was in the bin when it was emptied into the Biffa waste lorry and this is where he subsequently died.”
A pre-inquest review hearing will take place on 5 February.