Corrie McKeague’s father says his son has not been given any dignity, after an inquest into the RAF gunner’s death found he was crushed after climbing into an industrial bin.
Martin McKeague said the delay in establishing the correct bin weight “meant we had much less chance of recovering” Corrie’s body.
Corrie, from Dunfermline, Fife, was 23 when he disappeared in the early hours of September 24, 2016, after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
The jury at Ipswich coroners court said on Tuesday the airman’s judgment had been impaired by drinking but the bin had ineffective locks and wasn’t searched properly before being uplifted and taken to landfill.
Waste firm Biffa initially told police the weight of the bin was 11kg (1 stone 10lbs) but it was later recorded as 116kg (18 stone 3lbs).
Martin said the inquest had “forced the truth out into the open for everyone to see”.
“I’ve known this for five years, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” he told STV News.
“Even though you know, it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s been a difficult five-and-a-half years and there’s no getting away from it, but I’ve stuck with the facts and the evidence throughout.
“Time has been wasted due to what (bin lorry driver) Martyn Thompson had said and what Biffa had done by not giving us the correct weight.
“Now, it’s not an easy task to undertake to try and find anything in a landfill, but everything diminished as the days and the months went on.
“All we ever wanted is a bit of dignity for him, you know, and he’s not been given that. He’s not been given that at all.”
Police had believed the serviceman, who was stationed at RAF Honington, climbed into a bin which was then tipped into a waste lorry.
Corrie was last seen on CCTV at 3.25am entering a service area, shaped like a horseshoe, behind a Greggs store.
Jurors recorded that Corrie died at about 4.20am as a result of “compression asphyxia in association with multiple injuries”.
He was reported missing at 3.42pm on September 26 by colleagues at the airbase but no trace of him has ever been found.
Corrie’s mother, Nicola Urquhart, said she now “100%” believes what happened – despite her son’s body never being found – after her questions about his disappearance were answered.
She said: “As a family we’ve now all walked out of there with a huge weight lifted off our shoulders.
“In relation to Biffa, I think they have – and I will try and be as polite as I can – a great deal to learn about their process, their practice, their morality, their humanity in the way they deal with things.
“Other than that, I’m not going to say too much more just now. We do need to reflect on how badly they have affected this investigation and what they have put us through as a family because of that.
“And I would like to make so sure that this never happens to another family again.”
Ms Urquhart also thanked “every single person on the Find Corrie Facebook page”, which was set up after his disappearance, adding: “It’s truly my heartfelt belief that, without them, we’d never have the complete answers that we’ve got from the police in this investigation.”
She said her son’s legacy is his five-year-old daughter Ellie, who is the “spit of her dad” and “being brought up to know who he was, with his humour”.
She said: “That is his legacy. What more could you ask for?”
Suffolk’s senior coroner Nigel Parsley praised the family’s “quiet dignity” throughout the inquest.
He expressed concerns about viewing panels used to see inside the back of bin lorries and said he will write to the British Standards Institute, bin lorry manufacturer Dennis Eagle and waste firm Biffa about them.
Parsley also said he will also write a prevention of future deaths report in respect of “ineffective locks on bins”, sending it to the Container Handling Equipment Manufacturers Association and Biffa.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country