Corrie McKeague: Waste collection driver says he checked and missing airman was not in bin

Airman Corrie McKeague disappeared after a night out in Bury St Edmunds.
An inquest in Suffolk is trying to determine what happened to RAF airman Corrie McKeague who went missing after a night out in 2016 Credit: Suffolk Police

The driver of a waste collection lorry has told an inquest into the presumed death of Corrie McKeague that he checked inside the bin he picked up and it had no-one in it.

Driver Martyn Thompson also believes he saw someone closely resembling Mr McKeague when he arrived to collect the rubbish on the night the airman went missing.

The RAF gunner, who was based at RAF Honington eight miles away, vanished on a night out in 2016.

Giving evidence at the inquest in Ipswich on Thursday, the driver, Martyn Thompson, said he was very sure that he'd seen a young man in pink shirt and white trousers, holding a mobile phone, who looked as if he had been on a night out.

A Suffolk police investigation concluded Mr McKeague had fallen asleep in a commercial waste bin and was crushed when It was emptied into the back of the dustcart.

The Biffa driver maintains the bin was not heavier than would normally be expected and there was nothing unusual about the collection.

He said: "I reversed up to do Greggs' bin and, as I put the handbrake on the vehicle, I looked out of the driver's window, that's when I saw another individual."

He said the man was wearing light-coloured trousers and a pink shirt, leaning against a wall and "looking at a mobile phone, as the screen was illuminated".

"I thought 'He's a smartly-dressed chap, he's been on a night out'," Mr Thompson said.

He said he got out of the lorry to empty the Greggs bin and then did not see the man again.

Mr Thompson said he did not speak to the man.

Asked by Peter Taheri, counsel to the inquest, if he checked inside the bin before emptying it, Mr Thompson said: "I did check the bin because me and a colleague of mine, we always had this thing with that particular job.

"It was over-serviced - Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It always had very little in it, two plastic bags.

Police used excavating equipment in the hunt for missing Corrie McKeague. Credit: PA

"I would say 'What an expletive waste of time'."

He continued: "I checked it. I lifted the lid, I can recall what was in there."

Mr Thompson said he looked "far enough to see three clear plastic bags".

Asked if there was anyone inside the bin, he replied: "No, there wasn't."

Mr Taheri asked if Mr Thompson gave the bin a "good enough kick to rouse anyone inside", and Mr Thompson replied: "Absolutely, yes."

Asked if he would be surprised to hear that there was "more than 100kg" (15st 10lb) in the bin, Mr Thompson replied: "Yes."

Mr Taheri asked Mr Thompson if he stood by his description that there was not much in the bin, to which he replied: "I do."

The inquest earlier heard from Alex Knowles, the bass guitarist in a band that played at a nearby pub and finished at 1am, who described seeing a man asleep in a shop doorway.

Mr McKeague was seen on CCTV, asleep, by the Hughes store for some two hours before he walked to the service area behind Greggs.

Mr Knowles said he nudged Mr McKeague with a crutch he was using, to try to wake him, and said in his witness statement that Mr McKeague "lifted an arm to wave him away".

He said Mr McKeague appeared to have food containers around him.

The inquest continues.