Simon Parkes missing Navy sailor 021219 CREDIT HANDOUT HAMPSHIRE POLICE

Simon Parkes: Detectives To Search Gibraltar Cemetery For Missing Sailor

The teenage radio operator went missing in December 1986, after he went ashore in Gibraltar.

Simon Parkes missing Navy sailor 021219 CREDIT HANDOUT HAMPSHIRE POLICE

Police investigating the disappearance of a Royal Navy sailor more than 30 years on are to search a cemetery in Gibraltar, after receiving new "credible" information.

Simon Parkes, from Bristol, was last seen in December 1986 when the aircraft carrier on which he was serving, HMS Illustrious, docked in Gibraltar.

A police spokesman said: "Following new information, a specialist team has flown over in an effort to find out what happened to Simon Parkes once and for all.

"A week-long search will be carried out at Trafalgar Cemetery this week."

The investigation team will include forensics experts working alongside officers from the Royal Gibraltar Police.

Trafalgar Cemetery in Gibraltar 021219 CREDIT HANDOUT HAMPSHIRE POLICE
British detectives will begin searching Trafalgar Cemetery in Gibraltar this week (Picture: Handout/Hampshire Constabulary).

A previous search was carried out in Gibraltar in 2003, but without success.

Detective Inspector Roger Wood, who is leading the investigation team, said: "We believe this new information is credible and gives us an opportunity to find out what has happened to Simon.

"We have a duty to the public and to Simon's parents to follow up this new lead.

"I would like to urge anyone who was on HMS Illustrious, who knew or knew of Simon but has not yet spoken to us, or anyone who has remembered something new since talking to us last, to get in touch, as any small piece of information could really help our investigation."

Margaret and David Parkes parents of missing Simon Parkes 021219 CREDIT HANDOUT HAMPSHIRE CONSTABULARY
Margaret and David Parkes hope the search will give them answers about what happened to their son (Picture: Handout/Hampshire Police).

Mr Parkes' mother, Margaret Parkes, said: "After all this time we did not think that we would get another chance to find out what happened to Simon, so we are very grateful to the police for this.

"We know there's a chance we won't get the answers we so desperately want, but it would mean the world to us if we could finally bring Simon home."

Mr Parkes, a radio operator, was 18 years old when he went missing after going ashore.

When HMS Illustrious returned to Portsmouth days later, no-one knew what had happened to him, despite a huge manhunt. 

Anyone with information relating to the investigation can call 101, quoting 'Operation Thornhill', or can do so online by visiting this link.

Cover Image: Simon Parkes went missing in December 1986 (Picture: Handout/Hampshire Constabulary).