POLICE from Gibraltar and the UK are taking part in a new dig for remains of Simon Parkes, who has been missing since 1986 when he was on the Rock for shore leave.
The mystery disappearance has baffled both local and UK police officers for decades but they have not given up hope of finding ‘who dunnit’.
Forensic experts are now digging up a car park on Town Range as part of the investigation after recent information revealed new leads in the open case.
Nine officers from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary will take part in the dig.
They plan to focus their forensic work on underground water tanks at the site not far from the Horseshoe Bar where Parkes was last seen.
Officers are excavating the site after using ground-penetrating radar to explore if his remains could be located there.
But plans to continue the dig throughout the night could cause a disturbance to nearby residents, police warned.
The combined effort will require the use of a small generator that could be noisy throughout the night, they said.
UK detectives and specially trained search officers supported by the Royal Gibraltar Police will be following this new line of enquiry.
During the first few days the officers will focus on making a hole before trying to uncover if Simon Parkes’ remains are located there.
They have codenamed the new dig Operation Thornhill and asked the general public to come forward with any new information to help in the investigation.
Simon Parkes, 18, disappeared in Gibraltar on December 12, 1986, but digs of the Upper Rock and Trafalgar Cemetery since then have been unable to solve the mystery.
Parkes left HMS Illustrious on shore leave in 1986 and went to the Horseshoe Pub in Main Street to go drinking with crewmates.
He left the Horseshoe Bar at about 10.30pm to get some food before returning to his aircraft carrier docked at the Naval Base but was never seen again.
Police and military searches were unable to find his remains and he was declared Absent without Leave.
The case took an unexpected twist in 1999 when gay former Royal Navy officer Allan Grimson confessed to killing two men.
Grimson murdered them on December 12, the same day Simon Parkes went missing in Gibraltar.
He was on the same ship as Parkes but said he had nothing to do with the disappearance.
A UK court sentenced Grimson to life in prison for the murders he admitted to but no significant leads have been found to incriminate him for Parkes’ disappearance.
The latest dig follows new leads revealed in a book on his disappearance by Gibraltar journalist Ros Astengo.
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