New lines of enquiry as police continue search for Simon Parkes
The search for Simon Parkes, a young sailor who disappeared more than 30 years ago, will continue today in the Trafalgar Cemetery, after a “successful” investigation last year which raised new lines of enquiry.
The further investigations were confirmed in a joint press release issued by the Royal Gibraltar Police and the Hampshire Constabulary.
Over the weekend RGP officers could be seen setting up for the continued search, with the area cordoned off.
Last December a team from Hampshire Constabulary arrived in Gibraltar for a week-long search of the cemetery.
The search was carried out after new lines of enquiry identified new areas of interest.
Specialist teams from the Royal Gibraltar Police spend another fortnight at the site to ensure all possibilities have been fully investigated.
This investigation continues to be a collaborative operation with Royal Gibraltar Police, who will be carrying out the searches, supported by Hampshire Constabulary and the Royal Navy.
Simon vanished without trace in 1986 after a night out in Gibraltar, where the ship he was serving on HMS Illustrious was docked.
He was 18 at the time.
The radio operator from Bristol was last seen leaving the Horseshoe Bar in Main Street on December 12, 1986.
HMS Illustrious was on its last stop before returning to Portsmouth, but Simon never made it back on-board for Christmas.
“Since then investigations into his disappearance have so far failed to find answers for his devastated parents,” the RGP and Hampshire Constabulary said in a statement
“However, following new information received by Hampshire Constabulary earlier last year, the investigation made new progress and led officers back to Gibraltar.”
This is not the first time that areas of Gibraltar have been searched exhaustively for evidence that might help clarify Simon’s disappearance.
Previous searches of the Upper Rock, South Barracks and tunnels in the 1980s and early 2000s were fruitless.
Detective Inspector Adam Edwards of Hampshire Constabulary said the searches last December were successful in generating new lines of enquiry.
“These searches are a continuation of our investigation into the disappearance of Simon Parkes,” DI Edwards said.
“We owe it to him and his family to ensure we have followed every legitimate line of enquiry in a bid to give them the answers they have been waiting 30 years for.”
“The searches in December proved successful with regards to generating new lines of enquiry and these new searches are as a result of those.”
“While we did find bone material during our time out there in December, forensic testing on this takes time and we are still awaiting those results.”
DI Edwards added: “We have worked closely with our colleagues at Royal Gibraltar Police to plan this latest operation and we will be in constant contact with them throughout this next phase.”
“We have kept Mr and Mrs Parkes informed of our progress and I’d like to thank them again for their support. We know this remains a difficult time for them and we hope our work will finally bring them the answers they so desperately want.”
Detective Inspector John Olivera of the Royal Gibraltar Police said the search will aim to provide closure for Simon’s parents.
“We continue to work closely with Hampshire Constabulary on the investigation in order to follow all new lines of enquiry in a bid to provide Simon’s family with some closure,” DI Olivera said.
“Over the next two weeks, the public in Gibraltar can expect to see a large Police presence in and around the area of the Trafalgar cemetery, whilst the search operation is ongoing.”
Contemporary reports in the Chronicle following the disappearance described Simon as being of slight build, 5’8 tall with a West Country accent.
He was last seen wearing faded blue jeans, a pale grey T-shirt, and a long sleeved blue and grey crew neck jumper with a diamond pattern.
His distinguishing feature was a tattoo on his right arm of a black horse’s head with the name Simon through it.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Simon can call the RGP on (+350) 200 72500.