Police search Gibraltar car park for Royal Navy sailor missing since 1986 | UK News

Detectives investigating the disappearance of a Royal Navy sailor more than 37 years ago are searching a car park in Gibraltar after receiving new information.

Simon Parkes, from Bristol, was last seen in December 1986 when the ship he was serving on, HMS Illustrious, was docked in the territory.

His disappearance has previously been part of investigations by Hampshire Police into serial killer Allan Grimson, a former petty officer, who was jailed for life for the murder of two young men and who was serving on board the aircraft carrier at the same time as Mr Parkes.

Police have previously carried out digs at a cemetery in Gibraltar.

Last August they searched the Town Range car park – and now, following “a new line of enquiry”, officers from Hampshire Constabulary have returned there.

An  officer from Operation Thornhill during a search in Gibraltar
Fresh searches are being carried out at a car park in Gibraltar

A force spokesman said officers were carrying out “a small amount of further excavation work” at the site after “a further potential area of interest within the car park was identified to us”.

“A working group led by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, comprised of detectives and specially trained search officers both from the police and military, will be carrying out the work in Gibraltar during the week of 15 January as we continue to investigate what happened to Simon Parkes,” he said.

“The operational activity is part of our work to assess a new line of enquiry that has been presented to us.

“This latest activity follows work carried out in August 2023 where a small amount of excavation work was undertaken at Town Range car park.

“Whilst nothing was found to progress the investigation, a further potential area of interest within the car park was identified to us.

“This investigation continues to be a collaborative operation between Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary and Royal Gibraltar Police with support from the Ministry of Defence.”

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Mr Parkes, a radio operator, was 18 years old when he went missing.

He went on to shore but never made it back on board and when the ship returned to Portsmouth days later, no one knew what had happened to him despite a huge manhunt.

“Since then, investigations into his disappearance have so far failed to find answers for his long-suffering parents,” the force spokesman added.

Grimson was jailed in 2001 at Winchester Crown Court for the murders of naval rating Nicholas Wright, 18, from Leicestershire, and barman Sion Jenkins from Newbury, Berkshire.

He has always denied being involved in the disappearance of Mr Parkes.