Police defend delay to ‘£500,000’ landfill search for Corrie McKeague, as detectives admit finding body is ‘likely’

PUBLISHED: 16:26 08 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:32 08 March 2017

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

Police officers searching for the missing serviceman Corrie McKeague are set to spend up to ten weeks sifting through tonnes of rubbish.

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWNCorrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

The revelation that the weight of the bin, removed from the area Corrie McKeague was last seen, was in fact more than 100kg, instead of 11kg, has seen many ask whether the landfill could have been searched sooner.

Speaking from the Milton Landfill site today (March 8), Detective Superintendent Katie Elliot said the investigation has not been hampered by incorrect weights.

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWNCorrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

She defended their decision to spend thousands of man hours searching possible routes from Bury St Edmunds to RAF Honington, based on the theory that the 23-year-old RAF Regiment gunner may have tried to walk home.

To date, the Corrie investigation has cost Suffolk police more than £300,000.

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictured is Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott. Pictures: GREGG BROWNCorrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictured is Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

With the landfill search set to cost up to £500,000, she said: “Think if we had decided to search the landfill at the start, and then Corrie was found along a route between Bury and Honington? The information provided early on suggested Corrie intended to walk home.”

She said the searches, witness interviews and CCTV enquiries guided their decision to now search the landfill.

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWNCorrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

A hold on any waste being dumped on top of the area where rubbish from the bin Corrie may have been in has been in place since soon after he went missing on September 24.

Why search the landfill?

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictured is Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott. Pictures: GREGG BROWNCorrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictured is Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

The landfill, near Cambridge, was the destination of waste collected by a truck which emptied a bin from the ‘horseshoe area’ shortly after Corrie entered at 3.24am, September 24 2016.

Corrie was recorded on CCTV entering the area, which is off Brentgovel Street in Bury St Edmunds, behind some shops and opposite the Short Brackland junction.

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWNCorrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

He is never seen leaving or on any other camera in the town. The waste lorry was initially ruled out as unlikely, as the recorded weight of the rubbish picked out of the bin was only 11kg.

However, it emerged earlier this week that the real weight was in fact more than 100kg. After this discovery, a man from the waste company was arrested, but he was later released without charge.

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWNCorrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

The decision to search the landfill was made before the scale of the bin error was discovered.

The investigation team spoke to dozens of witnesses, searched acres of land and scoured thousands of hours of CCTV before deciding to search through the waste at Milton.

Corrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWNCorrie McKeague search starts at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

However, the revelation that a man of Corrie’s weight could have been in the bin has made detectives, and the RAF man’s family, come to the conclusion that Corrie is most likely in the landfill.

DS Elliot said: “Our enquiries to date have led us to believe there is a strong possibility that Corrie may have been brought to this landfill site.”

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