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No new clues in latest search for missing sailor Simon Parkes, police confirm

Police searched Town Range in continued investigation into missing sailor Simon Parkes. Photo by Gabriella Peralta.

A renewed search for Simon Parkes, the young Royal Navy sailor who vanished over 30 years ago in Gibraltar, has produced no new information to help in the investigation, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary confirmed on Thursday.

Nine officers from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary, including detectives and specially trained search officers, carried out the work in Gibraltar from Monday to Thursday this week, supported by the Royal Gibraltar Police, the Royal Navy and the Gibraltar Defence Police.

They carried out a small amount of excavation work at Town Range car park as they followed a potential further line of enquiry, digging around and inside some water tanks at the site and assessing the material removed.

“Disappointingly we have not identified anything that helps to move the investigation into Simon’s disappearance forward,” said Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary’s Detective Chief Inspector Adam Edwards, who is overseeing the investigation.

“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 at 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 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 bring them the answers they so desperately want.”

“Following the operational activity our officers visited the memorial site for Simon and laid some flowers to show our support to his family.”

The search this week followed previous extensive searches across areas in Gibraltar including the Upper Rock, South Barracks and tunnels, and Trafalgar Cemetery.

Previous searches also yielded no results, but the officers have never given up and remain hopeful for a breakthrough into the investigation of the cold case, called Operation Thornhill.

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 devastated parents.

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Simon Parkes can call Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary on 101, quoting Operation Thornhill, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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