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US News Was sailor murdered by a serial killer? For 30 years, mystery has surrounded the disappearance of teenage Navy recruit Simon Parkes. But now police are digging for clues in Gibraltar... as double-killer suspected of his murder eyes prison release

07:45  09 december  2019
07:45  09 december  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Was sailor murdered by a serial killer ? For 30 years , mystery has surrounded the disappearance of teenage Navy recruit Simon Parkes . But now police are digging for clues in Gibraltar as double - killer suspected of his murder eyes prison release .

Police searching for Royal Navy radio operator Simon Parkes , 18, who disappeared in Gibraltar on 12 December Police searching for sailor missing for 30 years find ‘bone material’. Anyone with information about the disappearance of Simon Parkes can call police on 101, quoting Operation

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  A small boat passes in front of the bow of HMS Illustrious, the UK's strike aircraft carrier, moored on the river Thames at Greenwich on May 7, 2009 in London, England. The Royal Navy is celebrating the Centenary of Naval Aviation with a flypast over HMS Illustrious and the Old Royal Naval College today.  (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) © 2009 Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07: A small boat passes in front of the bow of HMS Illustrious, the UK's strike aircraft carrier, moored on the river Thames at Greenwich on May 7, 2009 in London, England. The Royal Navy is celebrating the Centenary of Naval Aviation with a flypast over HMS Illustrious and the Old Royal Naval College today. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Tucked beneath Gibraltar’s imposing Rock, the Trafalgar Cemetery is the site of the graves of two heroic English sailors who died from wounds incurred during the glorious battle after which it is named. Even in winter, this immaculately preserved memorial — overlooked by a statue of Admiral Lord Nelson, who led the British fleet to victory over Napoleon’s fleet in 1805 — usually attracts a sprinkling of tourists.

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All last week, however, the tree-canopied graveyard — turned into a quagmire by torrential rain — was cordoned off by police tape. Beneath blue tarpaulin tents, a team of forensics and scene-of-crime experts from Hampshire Constabulary have been hammering at the historic tombs, and rummaging in the mud and rubble beneath their lids.

a person posing for the camera: Simon Parkes, 18, was serving in the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious when it docked in Gibraltar. He left the ship and never returned © Provided by Daily Mail Simon Parkes, 18, was serving in the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious when it docked in Gibraltar. He left the ship and never returned In conducting this grim operation, they have been careful not to disturb the remains of British servicemen, and yellow-fever victims, who were buried several feet below the stone vaults during the 18th and 19th centuries. For the young seaman whose body they are hunting — Simon Parkes — was not interred here during Britain’s great naval past. He is feared to have met a more recent end.

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In 1986, the 18-year-old radio operator from Bristol was serving in the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. On December 12, when the ship docked in Gibraltar — its final stop after a long global tour — he was among hundreds of crewmen who flocked to its rowdy bars. He never returned, and — despite repeated searches and investigations by the police and the Navy — has not been seen since that day 33 years ago.

Down the decades, there have been several theories for his mysterious disappearance. But the most persuasive is that he fell victim to psychopath Allan Grimson, a homosexual firefighting instructor in Illustrious who preyed on the handsome young sailors he taught.

Described by one psychiatrist as the most dangerous of the 250 killers he has examined, Grimson is serving a double life sentence for the horrific murders of two other young Navy men. Nicknamed ‘Frank’ — short for Frankenstein — by shipmates (by dint of his elongated forehead and intense, close-set eyes) Grimson was branded ‘a serial killer by nature if not number’ by the judge who sentenced him.

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Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought.

Yet he has always denied killing Simon. Now, however, an informant who was in HMS Illustrious in 1986 has furnished Hampshire Police with fresh information about this perplexing case. The force deemed his evidence so compelling that it dispatched a nine- member team to Gibraltar last week. The police decline to reveal details. Nor will they discuss the possibility that Grimson might be involved.

a man holding a sign: Simon’s parents, David and Margaret Parkes, who are in their 70s and have suffered many false dawns down the years, had been prepared for eventuality that the latest search might prove fruitless © Provided by Daily Mail Simon’s parents, David and Margaret Parkes, who are in their 70s and have suffered many false dawns down the years, had been prepared for eventuality that the latest search might prove fruitless

However, Detective Inspector Roger Wood, who is leading the investigation on the Rock, told me there were ‘credible’ reasons to believe the source, who has evidently told them that Simon’s body was hidden in Trafalgar Cemetery — a short distance from the Navy base where Illustrious was docked.

To many local residents — among them the boss of a landscape gardening company that maintains the graveyard and a maintenance man who has worked there — this theory seems unlikely. The cemetery is on a main road just yards from town, which was thronged with scores of boozy sailors on the night in question.

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Since then, thousands of sightseers have wandered its paths, and on Trafalgar Day, October 21, a big parade is staged there. Furthermore, from a distance, the solid tombs appear to be impenetrable. Intriguingly, however, DI Wood says that some of the lids will ‘slide straight off’ — so even a person acting alone could move them.

Simon’s parents, David and Margaret Parkes, who are in their 70s and have suffered many false dawns down the years, had been prepared for eventuality that the search might prove fruitless, he said. Yet even if a body isn’t found in Gibraltar, the investigation will continue, with other new lines having emerged in recent days.

‘We really want to solve this mystery and give Mr and Mrs Parkes answers they deserve,’ said the detective, as the search team went about their task. ‘They would like to bring Simon home. They have waited a very long time.’ Indeed so, and as retired teacher Mrs Parkes (whose other son died of a brain haemorrhage, aged 37) told me stoically: ‘After a time, you just have to get on with life, but something like this never really goes away.’

a statue of a man in a garden: The Trafalgar Cemetery - a short distance from the Navy base where Illustrious was docked - has been cordoned off by police tape as part of the investigation © Provided by Daily Mail The Trafalgar Cemetery - a short distance from the Navy base where Illustrious was docked - has been cordoned off by police tape as part of the investigation Having experienced the painful failure of a previous body-hunt in Gibraltar 16 years ago, she and her husband say this new search is their final hope of finding ‘closure’ and giving Simon a dignified burial in the West Country.

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So could he have been lying for more than 30 years beside those fallen Trafalgar heroes, Lieutenant William Foster, 20, fatally wounded when the French attacked HMS Colossus, and Captain Thomas Norman, 36, who died seven weeks after being injured on HMS Mars? And if he is, what evidence is there to suggest he might have been murdered by Grimson?

This question could not arise at a more pressing moment. For, coincidentally or otherwise, the police informant has come forward just as the double-killer, now aged 60, is being considered for parole.

According to a Parole Board spokesman, Grimson, who was given a 22-year tariff at Winchester Crown Court in 2001, has passed the first stage of the process. The crucial second stage comes later this month, when he will plead his case for freedom before a panel of experts.

Born in Suffolk, in 1959, but raised on Tyneside, where he still has family, it emerged during his trial that Grimson had always loathed his ‘ugliness’ and suffered low self-esteem. When he became a firefighting instructor in the Navy, he told police after his arrest, he would run his gaze over young recruits lined up before him, single out the handsome ones, and set about luring them.

a tent in a forest: Beneath blue tarpaulin tents, a team of forensics and scene-of-crime experts from Hampshire Constabulary have been hammering at the historic tombs, and rummaging in the mud and rubble beneath their lids © Provided by Daily Mail Beneath blue tarpaulin tents, a team of forensics and scene-of-crime experts from Hampshire Constabulary have been hammering at the historic tombs, and rummaging in the mud and rubble beneath their lids In a BBC documentary screened in 2005, detectives were said to have had information that he committed a string of murders annually over a ten-year period.

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Allegedly, the murder spree had begun after his advances were humiliatingly rejected by a young sailor. It’s believed Grimson might have been referring to Simon, whose mother says — with ‘100 per cent’ certainty — that he was not gay; a fact confirmed to me by his former girlfriend Maria Storey, now a school dinner lady in her 50s.

In the TV documentary, it was said that, after a pause of some seconds, Grimson withdrew this bombshell ‘confession’ to being a prolific serial killer. He eventually admitted two murders. Chillingly, both were carried out on, or around, December 12 — the date Simon vanished in Gibraltar.

His first victim was 18-year-old seaman Nicholas Wright, whom he enticed back to his Portsmouth flat in December 1997, and bludgeoned with a baseball bat before slitting his throat and slicing off his ear. We only have Grimson’s version of what happened, but it seems the hapless young man spurned his attempted seduction.

He said the murder had given him ‘a tingling sensation’, and ‘was better than sex’. It had given him a sense of power and control. Precisely 12 months later, he murdered Sion Jenkins, 20, who had left the Navy to become a barman, in a similarly horrific manner. He hoped the killing would provide a similar thrill, but on that occasion, he said, he ‘felt nothing’.

a person standing posing for the camera: One theory is that Simon fell victim to psychopath Allan Grimson, a homosexual firefighting instructor in Illustrious who preyed on the handsome young sailors he taught © Provided by Daily Mail One theory is that Simon fell victim to psychopath Allan Grimson, a homosexual firefighting instructor in Illustrious who preyed on the handsome young sailors he taught The bodies of these two men were not found for two years. But then, in 1999, Hampshire police re-examined their disappearances and questioned Grimson. They had learned that Nicholas had complained to his parents, shortly before he went missing, that the fire instructor had been pestering him sexually.

Almost immediately Grimson admitted murdering Nicholas, and led detectives to his remains, which had lain undiscovered in the undergrowth near a busy road in Hampshire. ‘There is one more body,’ he then told the stunned officers. They were led to another lonely spot, a few miles away, where Sion’s body had been dumped.

Two years on, nobody has been charged over the murder of this Limerick woman

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Detectives then began exploring the possibility that he might have killed many more young men, looking into the disappearances of some 20 sailors, visiting ports around the world where he had been ashore while teaching on the Illustrious and the Type-42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh.

The most disturbing case they came upon was that of Simon Parkes. And although Grimson repeatedly denied murdering him, they found circumstantial evidence to suggest he may be lying.

Mrs Parkes describes Simon as ‘funny and sociable’ with a talent for art. He had ambitions for a naval career as a boy, first joining the Sea Cadets and enlisting when he left school, aged 17. Soon afterwards he sailed with the HMS Illustrious, taking part in the Navy’s showcase ‘Global 86’ tour. It meant being away for many months, and of course there were no mobile phones then.

a man standing in front of it: Mrs Parkes describes Simon as ‘funny and sociable’ with a talent for art. He had ambitions for a naval career as a boy, first joining the Sea Cadets and enlisting when he left school, aged 17 © Provided by Daily Mail Mrs Parkes describes Simon as ‘funny and sociable’ with a talent for art. He had ambitions for a naval career as a boy, first joining the Sea Cadets and enlisting when he left school, aged 17 But he wrote home regularly, and his mum says he was ‘having a whale of a time’. By the time the ship docked in Gibraltar, however, he was eagerly looking forward to being reunited with his family for Christmas. In four days’ time, he would be back in Portsmouth, and he had asked Mrs Parkes and her husband, David, to be there as walked down the gangplank.

‘Simon rang us from Suez to make sure we had the papers we needed to get onto the naval base. He seemed in great spirits,’ she told me. ‘He was going to be based ashore for a while, at Yeovilton, Somerset, which isn’t too far from our house, and we had bought him driving lessons for Christmas, so that he would be able to come and see us.’

It was the last she heard from him. When he did not return to the Illustrious, the carrier sailed without Simon, and a couple of days passed before anyone deigned to tell the Parkes he was missing.

Though he had left his passport and belongings on the ship, and was wearing only a T-shirt and jeans, it was initially presumed he had gone absent without leave. It was suggested that he might have run off with a girl whom he met when he was out drinking in the regular Navy haunts, the Horseshoe Bar and the Hole-in-the-Wall.

a young boy wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Grimson's murder spree allegedly began after his advances were humiliatingly rejected by a young sailor. It’s believed Grimson might have been referring to Simon (pictured), whose mother says — with ‘100 per cent’ certainty — that he was not gay © Provided by Daily Mail Grimson's murder spree allegedly began after his advances were humiliatingly rejected by a young sailor. It’s believed Grimson might have been referring to Simon (pictured), whose mother says — with ‘100 per cent’ certainty — that he was not gay While his parents sat by the phone for weeks and months, hoping to hear from him, and journeyed to Gibraltar the following January to appeal for information, they never believed he would have run away from a job he loved. At that stage, they had never heard the name Allan Grimson.

It was not until Grimson was jailed for murder, 15 years later, and the investigation into his past began, that the possible link was made. Since then, much has emerged. When Simon was last sighted, at around 10.30pm, he is said to have been drinking in the same pub as Grimson. A fellow crew member also claimed to have walked back to the ship with Grimson and a man resembling Simon (a route that would have led directly past the Trafalgar Cemetery).

The witness reportedly said that, on reaching the aircraft carrier, the two men decided to return to town, leaving the other crew member to board alone. But when he was interviewed, 13 years later, he said he could not be certain it was Simon. Had he been convinced, the BBC film claimed, the Attorney General would have allowed a case to be brought against Grimson.

Last week, I met another witness, Charlie Trico. For years he was the colourful proprietor of the now-closed Hole-in-the-Wall, where sailors sank his notorious John Collins cocktails and played lewd games. Now 68, he recalled how Grimson had designs on his handsome young barman, Jason, that Friday night, but left with an unknown young sailor who was drunk. This was not Simon, he said.

What, then, of the other theories? At one point a taxi driver was said to have admitted — to a friend — that he beat Simon to death and disposed of his body after a row over the fare. When police brought him in, however, he denied this, and soon afterwards died of a heart attack.

a man standing in a garden: In conducting this grim operation, experts have been careful not to disturb the remains of British servicemen, and yellow-fever victims, who were buried several feet below the stone vaults during the 18th and 19th centuries © Provided by Daily Mail In conducting this grim operation, experts have been careful not to disturb the remains of British servicemen, and yellow-fever victims, who were buried several feet below the stone vaults during the 18th and 19th centuries Then it was suggested that Simon might have been the victim of a revenge attack by a British soldier. For in March, 1986, nine months before he disappeared, Neil James Griffin, of the 1st Battalion Queen’s Regiment, was found mortally injured in Casemates Square, Gibraltar, having plunged 30ft from a building, and a sailor was charged with murder. What, then, do Simon’s family believe happened?

Mrs Parkes was circumspect when I asked whether she thinks Grimson killed him. ‘There are certainly coincidences,’ was all she would say.

However, when he first fell under suspicion, she requested to meet him in prison, hoping he might tell her the truth. She was advised against this because he might manipulate the encounter for his own ends, and instead wrote him a carefully worded letter, saying she bore no ill-feeling towards him and wanted only peace of mind. But Grimson continued to deny involvement. Mr and Mrs Parkes strongly oppose his parole.

a large tree in a park: A fellow crew member also claimed to have walked back to the ship with Grimson and a man resembling Simon - a route that would have led directly past the Trafalgar Cemetery (pictured) © Provided by Daily Mail A fellow crew member also claimed to have walked back to the ship with Grimson and a man resembling Simon - a route that would have led directly past the Trafalgar Cemetery (pictured) ‘We have always thought, based on what he has done, that he should stay inside,’ Mr Parkes told me. ‘But we have no say over it at all.’ As the search ended, police revealed they had found bone fragments in the graveyard, but were treating the finding cautiously. However, they would need to be matched against a DNA sample taken from Mrs Parkes.

An appeal for information had also generated ‘promising leads’ in the UK and Gibraltar. Last night Mrs Parkes said: ‘Until the forensic tests are completed we won’t get too hopeful. It could go either way, couldn’t it?’ Surely after all their years of anguish, this couple at last deserve an answer.

Gallery: The most notorious serial killers in history (StarsInsider)

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Two years on, nobody has been charged over the murder of this Limerick woman .
Two years on, nobody has been charged over the murder of this Limerick womanRose Hanrahan, 78, was found strangled in her home, on New Road, Thomondgate, Limerick city, on 15 December 2017.

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