Corrie McKeague coroner voices safety concerns over bin lorries

The death of an RAF gunner who had fallen asleep in a commercial bin that was later tipped into a waste lorry has led a coroner to raise concerns about refuse safety.

By Stephen Wilkie
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 10:46 am

Corrie Mckeague, from Dunfermline, was 23 when he disappeared in September 2016 after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Nigel Parsley, the coroner, said there was an "ineffective search of the bin" before it was emptied. He raised concerns about "ineffective bin locks", bin lorry drivers not "having the means to search the bin thoroughly or safely" and "poor visibility through the viewing window on the lorry" in a report on the gunner's death.

His report has seen sent to the British Standards Institute, The Container Handling Equipment Manufacturers Association, Dennis Eagle Ltd, a manufacturer of refuse collection trucks, and Biffa Waste Services Ltd.

Tragic: Corrie McKeague vanished after a night out and no trace of his body has ever been found.

Biffa previously said the incident highlighted the "waste industry-wide issue of people sleeping in waste containers".

In his report, Mr Parsley described the locks on the bin as "not robust" and said "due to their design the locks were also frequently broken".

He said the number of reported incidents of people in bins could be reduced if stronger locks are fitted.

The hearing was told that Mr McKeague had slept under bin bags on a previous occasion. It also heard he could be a "heavy sleeper" when drunk.

It also heard of a mix-up over the weight of the bin lorry’s load that emerged during police investigations into his disappearance.

A massive search was conducted of a landfill site but no trace of Mr McKeague was ever found.

Biffa previously said the incident highlighted the "waste industry-wide issue of people sleeping in waste containers".

The coroner concluded it was "physically impossible to undertake a check of the hopper mechanism on the Biffa lorry as the viewing aperture window is too high". He said the viewing window on the six-year-old lorry had also become opaque.

Craig Knightley, from the solicitors representing Mr Mckeague's family, said they hoped the "raising of these ongoing concerns, at the very highest level, will lead to changes within the industry that will hopefully further reduce the serious risk to people in bins".

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