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'I don't think we're ever going to find out exactly what happened' - Corrie's mum on three-year anniversary

Nicola Urquhart, the mother of missing Corrie McKeague, in Bury St Edmunds Picture: NEIL DIDSBURY

Nicola Urquhart, the mother of missing Corrie McKeague, in Bury St Edmunds Picture: NEIL DIDSBURY

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The mother of missing RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague says she accepts her son is dead but hasn't given up hope of finding his remains.

Corrie McKeague in a picture uploaded by his mother. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYCorrie McKeague in a picture uploaded by his mother. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Speaking exclusively to this newspaper ahead of the three-year anniversary of his disappearance, Nicola Urquhart said she is "realistic" but insists there are still areas to be searched.

Corrie was captured on CCTV entering a bin loading area in Bury St Edmunds at 3.24am on Saturday, September 24, 2016, after a night out in the town. He has never been seen since.

A wide-reaching investigation into the RAF Honington gunner's disappearance, costing more than £2million, followed but despite two searches of a landfill site in Milton, Cambridgeshire, no trace of Corrie was ever found.

Mrs Urquhart said: "I completely accept the fact that Corrie is dead, I don't think we're ever going to find out exactly what happened but I do still hold out a little bit of hope that he may be found because there are still areas that haven't been searched.

"And that's not a wild stab in the dark in saying 'here's a field, you never searched it'. This is the main route back to Honington that Corrie drove every single time he drove in, only one side of the road was searched so although Sulsar have done additional searches on top of the ones the police had requested, the entire area hasn't been searched yet. So I think things like that still need to be done.

"But it has been nearly three years now and I am realistic. No dog walker, no farmer, no-one has come forward to say anything yet but sometimes stepping back and looking at all the evidence again can highlight tiny little things which have been overlooked."

MORE: Mother of Corrie McKeague vows to keep searching for son

Mrs Urquhart, a Police Scotland family liaison officer, said she is still focused on doing everything she can to try to find him.

"I think something that is really strange, something that I've said to people in my role as a police officer is that getting closure is very important," she said.

Corrie McKeague Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYCorrie McKeague Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

"Because you imagine getting closure is something important. But it wouldn't matter if somebody said they did find an item belonging to Corrie in a field or in the landfill or anywhere. That's still not going to give me all of the answers.

"So for me, the only closure I can look for is 'have I done everything that I realistically am capable of doing to try and find him?'."

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Mrs Urquhart revealed that she made the conscious decision to travel down to Suffolk to spend time with family and friends over Corrie's birthday - September 16 - and the three-year anniversary of his disappearance.

Corrie McKeague on CCTV outside The Grapes pub in Bury St Edmunds Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYCorrie McKeague on CCTV outside The Grapes pub in Bury St Edmunds Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

She said: "This time I wanted to come down to Suffolk and my intention wasn't to do anything, it was to take a couple of weeks to properly see some of the friends that we've made and some of the people that have helped us.

"We've been able to get round so many people. The lady from the Find Corrie page, Sonia, Wayne and Cheryl from the Bull pub in Barton Mills, friends from the American air base, so many people have helped us.

"That's why we've all come down here because we thought the best place to be would be here with all of the friends that we've met through Corrie would be the best way of dealing with it.

"It then turns out that it's actually been an easier week, week-and-a-half to deal with emotionally than one day when you're sitting in the car and a song comes on and just catches you by surprise.

A search for Corrie McKeague at the Milton landfill site in Cambridgeshire Picture: GREGG BROWNA search for Corrie McKeague at the Milton landfill site in Cambridgeshire Picture: GREGG BROWN

"I think when we plan for a Christmas, a birthday, an anniversary, because we're aware it might be a problem, we deal with it fine at the time. It's the unexpected times, that's what's really difficult."

MORE: Corrie McKeague investigation passed to cold case detectives

Mrs Urquhart added that her family has made focusing on their mental health a priority during the difficult three years since his disappearance.

The serviceman's mum is encouraging people to talk to one another - whatever difficulties they might be going through in their lives.

She added: "Our mental health is something that we have all properly focused on, talking to each other, speaking to each other and getting help from our friends and letting them help us.

"That's something I really want to promote, no matter how hard a time you're going through, sometimes you have to let people help you because there are so many good people out there.

"We saw that with the Find Corrie [Facebook] group and all they did for us and all they continue to do for us.

"I don't know if we'd have been able to focus on anything if we hadn't had that type of support over the three years."

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