Officers investigating the disappearance of Simon Parkes more than 30 years ago have carried out excavation work at Town Range Car Park and Trafalgar Cemetery in Gibraltar this week (w/c 15 January 2024) as police followed a potential further line of enquiry.

A working group led by eight officers from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, along with the Defence Serious Crime Unit, and including detectives and specially trained search officers both from the police and military, carried out the work as we continue to investigate what happened to Simon Parkes. The operational activity is part of our work that is ongoing to assess and explore any new lines of enquiry that are 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. Following our work this week we can confirm that no items or materials were located that will progress our enquiries.

Detective Chief Inspector Adam Edwards, who is overseeing the investigation, said: “Based on new information specialist officers have spent five days in Gibraltar following a potential new line of enquiry. We have excavated an area at Town Range Car Park, around and inside of, a water tank and have assessed the material removed. Disappointingly following this second excavation at Town Range Car Park and Trafalgar Cemetery we have not identified anything that helps to move the investigation into Simon’s disappearance forward. There is no intention to expand our search area or move to other locations at this time. However it is important to stress that our investigation does remain ongoing.

“I’d like to thank our colleagues from the military who helped to ensure the search undertaken was thorough in very challenging conditions. In only five days the team has processed more than twelve tonnes of material in the underground water tank that has been sealed for some time. The conditions were hot, damp and filthy but team members spent hours at a time inside the tank to search through every item found. At least two tonnes of material has been brought up to the surface for sieving and fingertip examination. I’ve personally overseen the search activity and I’m incredibly proud of the team’s performance and dedication when they have been faced with such a difficult task. I’d also like to thank Royal Gibraltar Police for their assistance with this latest operation and the public in Gibraltar for their patience during this activity

“We have kept Mr and Mrs Parkes informed of our progress for Simon Parkes and I’d like to thank them again for their support. We know this remains a difficult time for them and we hope our ongoing work will one day bring them the answers they so desperately want”.

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.

Royal Navy Rating Parkes, from Bristol, was last seen in December 1986, when the ship he was serving on, HMS Illustrious, was docked in Gibraltar.

The 18-year-old radio operator went onto 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 to find him.

Since then investigations into his disappearance have so far failed to find answers for his long-suffering parents.

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Simon can call us on 101, quoting Operation Thornhill, submit information via there website: , or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

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