Police searching for sailor in Gibraltar find ‘bone material’

Police carrying out searches at a cemetery in Gibraltar as part of an investigation into the disappearance of a Royal Navy sailor more than 30 years ago have discovered “bone material”.

Simon Parkes, from Bristol, was last seen in December 1986 when the ship he was serving on, HMS Illustrious, was docked in the territory.

His disappearance has previously been part of investigations by Hampshire Police into serial killer Allan Grimson, a former petty officer, who is serving life for the murder of two young men and who was serving on board the aircraft carrier at the same time as the 18-year-old.

Simon Parkes
Simon Parkes, 18, was a junior rating on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and went missing in Gibraltar (Hampshire Police/PA)

Detectives from Hampshire travelled to Gibraltar this week to carry out searches at Trafalgar Cemetery following “new information”.

A force spokesman said: “The searches have found some bone material but these will need further forensic analysis to determine whether or not these are human.

“The activity in Gibraltar has also sparked several new calls in to the major crime investigation team offering new lines of enquiry both in the UK and in Gibraltar.”

Police carry out searches at Trafalgar Cemetery, Gibraltar. (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

Detective Inspector Roger Wood said: “We knew that there was a chance we wouldn’t find Simon, but we owed it to his family and his crew mates to try.

“The information that led us to Trafalgar Cemetery is credible and as with any cold case, we will take action if new, viable lines of enquiry present themselves.

“While the searches were not successful in the way we had hoped, we have found some bone material which may or may not be human.

“Further tests are needed to determine what they are and while this is a positive discovery, we are cautious not to put too much significance on it at this time.

“On top of this, our activity has also generated new lines of enquiry from the public.

“This means that the investigation is far from over and we will be following up these promising leads both in the UK and Gibraltar.”

Police found bone material which may or may not be human (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

Mr Parkes’s parents, Margaret and David, said in a statement released through police: “We would like to thank everyone involved for their support and the opportunity to again search for Simon.

“It is a very difficult time but we are optimistic that the search is not over and we will never give up hope of finding him.”

Grimson was jailed in 2001 at Winchester Crown Court for the murders of naval rating Nicholas Wright, 18, from Leicestershire, and barman Sion Jenkins from Newbury, Berkshire.

He has always denied being involved in the disappearance of Mr Parkes.

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