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The Disappearance of Simon PARKES on 12/12/1986

This is the investigation into the disappearance of Simon PARKES. Simon was last seen in Gibraltar on the evening of 12th December 1986 whilst on shore leave from HMS Illustrious.

Details of Incident

The investigation into the mystery disappearance of a young naval officer more than 30 years ago has led officers back to Gibraltar today (December 2).

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, headed up by Detective Inspector Roger Wood.

His team from Hampshire Constabulary will be working closely alongside officers from Royal Gibraltar Police.

Royal Navy Rating Parkes, from Bristol, was last seen in December 1986, when the ship he was serving on, HMS Illustrious, was docked in Gibraltar.

The 18-year-old radio operator went onto shore but never made it back on-board and when the ship returned to Portsmouth days later, no one knew what had happened to him despite a huge manhunt to find him.

Since then investigations into his disappearance have so far failed to find answers for his devastated parents.

However, following new information received by Hampshire Constabulary, the investigation is making new progress and has led officers back to Gibraltar.

Detective Inspector Roger Wood said: “We believe this new information is credible and gives us an opportunity to find out once and for all what has happened to Simon.

“As with any cold case, no case is ever closed indefinitely - if we get new information that offers new and legitimate investigative opportunities then we will take action.

“We have duty to the public and to Simon’s parents to follow-up this new lead and see what comes from it.

“There is a significant amount of work that has brought us to where we are today and we would not be taking these steps if we did not think it was worth it.

“There is of course the chance that we do not find what we are looking for during this trip, but we cannot ignore new information. We owe it to Simon and his family to try.

“Our work here could also trigger memories for someone who may hold the key to solving this.

“Someone out there will know what happened to Simon and I would urge them to come forward and give his heartbroken parents the answers they have spent the last 30 years searching for.”

Contact Information

If you would prefer to speak to someone, please call 101 and ask for Hampshire Constabulary, quoting reference 44190129695 or Operation Thornhill 2

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their online anonymous form at  No personal details are taken, calls cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.