Home' Greymouth Star : January 17th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1377 - Pope Gregory XI restores the Papal See
1773 - Captain James Cook’s Resolution
becomes the first ship to cross the
1893 - Hawaii’s monarchy
is overthrown as a group of
white businessmen force Queen
Liliuokalani to abdicate.
1912 - Captain Robert Scott
and his expedition reach the
South Pole, one month after Norway ’s Roald
1929 - Popeye makes his first appearance as a
character in a comic strip.
1966 - US B52 bomber collides in mid-air
with a refuelling tanker over Spain. Eight people
are killed and the bomber’s H-bomb falls into
1977 - Double murderer Gary Gilmore, 36, is
shot by a firing squad at Utah State Prison.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Benjamin Franklin, US statesman (1706-
1790); David Lloyd George, British politician
(1863-1945); Al Capone, US gangster (1899-
1947); Betty White, US actress (1922-); Eartha
Kitt, singer-actress (1927-2008);
James Earl Jones, US actor (1931-);
Shari Lewis, US puppeteer (1934-
1998); Muhammad Ali, US boxer
(1942-); Steve Earle, American
musician (1955-); Susanna Hoffs,
US singer of The Bangles (1957-);
Jim Carrey, Canadian actor (1962-);
Michelle Obama, US First Lady (1964-).
“ I am always ready to learn, but I do
not always like to be taught.” — Winston
Churchill, British statesman (1874-1965).
“And there will be no more night; they need
no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will
be their light, and they will reign forever and
ever.” — (Revelation 22:5).
century of sunshine
hours for 1967
came up with the 13
hours and 24 minutes of bright sun recorded
up to 9 o’clock this morning at the Karoro
meteorological station. And as the Coast ’s
‘ heatwave’ continues, hundreds of people are
taking advantage of it and swarming to the
beaches. At the same time the fire hazard
increases and residents depending on tank
water supply are rapidly running dry.
In 17 days Greymouth has had 104.9 hours
of sunshine. This is the quickest century since
1963 when the tally for the same period was
The search for the missing Christchurch
yachtsman John Seymour Porter will today
be concentrated along the rugged coastal
fringe north of the Heaphy River, about 24
miles from Karamea. Mr Porter had sailed
single-handed by trimaran from Sydney to
New Zealand but beached on the banks of the
Heaphy River when his navigation and radio
He was presumed drowned when a jetboat
taking him from the mouth of the Heaphy
River to Karamea on Sunday was swamped by
freak waves. Yesterday a search conducted by
constable L J Graham of Westport and two
employees of the Forest Ser vice failed to find
any trace of the missing yachtsman.
What is thought to be the first barefoot water
skiing on the Grey River took place yesterday
when a Christchurch youth David Brown
performed this feat.
Brown has performed this on Lake Wahapo
and Lake Kaniere in recent weeks. He was
towed by his brother’s 12ft 6in long outboard
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
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03 755 8422
young man in a pink shirt,
with hands buried in the
pockets of his fashionable
white jeans, strolls jauntily
through the centre of the
cathedral town of Bury
He stops, looks around, and decides
to turn right, past a couple of hanging
Then he disappears into a cobbled
loading area immediately behind a branch
of the High Street bakery Greggs.
It is 3.25am on Saturday, September
24, 2016, and these grainy CCTV images
(circulated by Suffolk police) show the
last known movements of 23-year-old
ser viceman Corrie McKeague.
He was reported missing the following
Monday, about 48 hours later, after failing
to report for duty at his nearby airbase
RAF Honington. That was almost four
Since then, McKeague’s disappearance
has confounded police, transfixed amateur
sleuths and sparked one of the most
baffling manhunts in recent memory.
At its centre is a single, unanswered
question: How could a grown man,
walking through the centre of a town
equipped with numerous CCTV cameras,
vanish into thin air?
Police say it is virtually impossible to
walk more than a few yards from the spot
where McKeague was last seen without
being caught on camera.
There was no obvious way, at that time
of night, to hide from view by entering an
adjacent building. Detectives can find no
evidence to suggest he was taken away in a
car or other vehicle.
Exhaustive searches of both the Suffolk
town and the surrounding countryside
have failed to establish his whereabouts.
A huge PR campaign, followed by
hundreds of thousands of messages on
Facebook and Twitter, has led nowhere.
Appeals for witnesses on radio and tv have
come up blank.
A team of private investigators, employed
by the family, and paid for via a crowd
funding campaign which has raised tens of
thousands of pounds, has been unable to
elicit productive clues.
This week, the plot thickened when it
emerged that McKeague (who had been
described by relatives as “happily single”)
is to become a father: a 21-year-old local
woman called April Oliver told the BBC
that she is not only his girlfriend, but is
four months pregnant with his child.
So what happened to the missing RAF
man? And where are the clues that might
solve his disappearance?
A ‘gregarious’ character who ‘loved to
be the centre of attention’, according to
his mother Nicola Urquhart, the RAF
Regiment gunner had arranged to spend
Friday night in Bury Saint Edmunds
with friends from his digs on the airbase.
However, he missed his arranged lift.
So at 10pm, he drove to town, parking
his BMW Z4 sports car in a pay-and-
display car park on Robert Boby Way, next
to Waitrose. At 10.10pm, he phoned his
brother Darroch. They spoke for roughly
half-an -hour while McKeague consumed
several alcoholic drinks in his car.
At 10.50pm he joined pals at the nearby
So Bar, before walking to a large branch
of Weatherspoon in Bury’s former Corn
Exchange building. At half past midnight,
the party adjourned to the Flex nightclub.
At the entrance, manager Ben Manning
said he had asked McKeague if he was
inebriated, to which the ser viceman
replied ‘yes’, and said ‘I love you’, before
He stayed for just half-an -hour, before
being ejected by doorman Will Hook
because he had ‘consumed enough alcohol’
and was drawing attention to himself.
McKeague agreed ‘amicably’ to depart,
says Hook, and left the nightclub,
becoming separated from his friends.
His next stop was Pizza Mama Mia, a
fast food joint around 500m away where
he jovially played ‘rock paper scissors’ with
a fellow customer, before ordering two
burgers, a kebab, and a portion of chips.
At 1.20am, police CCTV cameras
showed him walking past the nearby
Grapes pub, en route to the doorway of
an electrical store called Hughes, where
he sat down to eat and subsequently fell
asleep. A passer-by later prodded him to
check he was okay.
About 3am, the serviceman woke up
and looked at his mobile phone, a Nokia
At 3.08am, he sent a text message to a
friend, containing a picture of a previous
night out. He then got to his feet and was
filmed for the final time, walking into the
area behind Gregg’s, at 3.25am.
Sometime later (the police will not say
exactly when), mobile data records his
phone was in the vicinity of Barton Mills,
a town north-west of Bury. It was moving
at a speed consistent to that of a vehicle,
At roughly 8am, the phone stopped
transmitting, suggesting it had either
run out of battery, been turned off, o r
destroyed. It has not been recovered.
The search initially focused on
speculation that he had tried to walk the
back to his airbase, with police saying:
‘He’s known to go on nights out with
his friends and make his way back to
wherever he’s based on foot.’
A major search and rescue operation was
mounted, with teams scouring miles of
rural verges amid fears that he might have
either fallen into a ditch, or been thrown
into one after being hit by a vehicle.
But to no avail. Once CCTV began
to be fully analysed, however, it became
apparent that the chances of him having
wandered out of Bury undetected were
There are 61 police cameras in the town,
along with dozens more belonging to
businesses and private residents. They
contain more than 1100 hours of footage
of the period, which have now been
closely studied by investigators.
None of them show him leaving the
loading area behind Greggs, which police
have described as a ‘horseshoe’, or passing
along any nearby street. Some cameras are
fixed, while others rotate.
While they do not provide total
coverage of every possible exit route for
the entire time, police say it is ‘highly,
highly unlikely’ that McKeague could
have left town on foot without being
“ We can’t be 100% sure, but we’ve
analysed everything, from whether
a person could squeeze along a wall
undetected, to whether they could run
down a particular street when the camera
was rotated in a certain direction.
“There are some gaps in coverage, but
they are tiny. There’s no more than a 1 or
2% chance that he walked away, even if he
was trying not to be seen.”
Walking home would also seem a
curious choice, given that he needed to
return to town by 9am to prevent his
BMW from getting a parking ticket. A
more sensible option might have been to
sleep in the vehicle.
What is more, the route to RAF
Honington (where Prince Harry
inspected fellow servicemen two years
ago) would either take him through a
series of villages, or along the verge of
the busy A134 dual carriageway. Yet no
witnesses report seeing him.
A week after McKeague vanished, police
identified a bin lorry belonging to waste
firm Biffa which was one of just four
vehicles seen on CCTV footage around
the ‘horseshoe’ area during the hours he
In addition, the lorry’s subsequent
itinerary had taken it to a recycling centre
near Barton Mills, at around the time
the serviceman’s mobile phone was in the
There have been several reported cases,
in recent years, of intoxicated people
falling asleep in refuse bins before being
crushed in rubbish trucks that come to
So it was initially feared that McKeague
had met with a tragic accident. However,
the lorry was fitted with a weighing
device, which records how much waste
it collects, so that clients are billed
accordingly. This showed that the
recycling bin it emptied outside Greggs
contained less than 15kg of material.
McKeague weighs around 85kg.
Detectives have checked the calibration
of the device and say it is accurate. They
also say it is impossible for McKeague to
have hitched a ride on the vehicle without
His mobile phone was not found at
the recycling centre where the lorry
was unloaded. Other bins in the area
were emptied several days after he went
missing. They were forensically examined
before Christmas, but nothing was
A couple more bins, in a loading bay
opposite the ‘horseshoe’, have not been
tested. It ’s possible, if extremely unlikely,
that he could have accessed them without
being seen on CCTV.
Bury is just half-an-hour’s drive from
RAF Marham, where two men of Middle
Eastern appearance — armed with a knife
— tried last July to abduct a serviceman
who was jogging along a rural lane.
He escaped after knocking one of his
assailants to the ground as they tried to
drag him into a people carrier. The kidnap
attempt took place on the same day that
Isis released a video calling for attacks
on Britain and other countries in the
coalition bombing the terrorist group in
Syria and Iraq.
Around a fortnight after McKeague’s
disappearance, his mother said the
possibility of a similar kidnap ‘has
been mentioned by police and it is not
something they would rule out ’.
Detectives said they were keeping an
open mind on this front. However, as
time passed, it was deemed increasingly
First, Islamic terrorists tend to claim
responsibility quickly but no group or
individual has done so in this case.
Second, there was no obvious way such
an attacker would have known
that McKeague was in the Armed
Forces unless he was followed from his
Third, and perhaps most importantly,
police soon tracked down each of the
three other cars which were in the area
around the time he vanished. They have
spoken to all of owners and believe there
is nothing untoward in their presence.
Initially, one possibility was that
McKeague had decided to do a runner
from the RAF. With that idea in
mind, his uncle Tony Wringe, a former
ser viceman, issued a message via Forces tv.
Friends, however, say McKeague was
happy with his job and enjoying RAF life.
His brother Darroch, who spoke to him
on the night he vanished, saw no signs of
unhappiness. Indeed, Corrie was planning
for the future, having booked plane tickets
to visit family in Scotland at Halloween.
More importantly, McKeague made no
obvious arrangements to disappear. His
pet puppy, a seven-month-old cross-breed
called L ouell, was left in his bedroom on
the base, along with his passport.
There has been no activity on his bank
or credit cards, and his e-mail and social
media accounts contain no evidence of
him making any such plan.
Fit, vivacious, confident and good-
looking, McKeague had a colourful love
Having split from one girlfriend, an
actress called Chloe Fox, in 2015, he was
active on the dating websites Plenty of
Fish and Tinder. Like many young men,
he would regularly chat up girls in bars
Did an attempted romantic advance
backfire? Did he anger someone’s
boyfriend on the night he went missing?
Or, more sinisterly, could someone have
used an on-line dating platform to lure
him into a dangerous situation via his
In late November, McKeague’s mother
Nicola, a police liaison officer, speculated
as much, saying: ‘Corrie was single and
on dating sites. He had met girls within a
short period of meeting on-line.
“But perhaps he was tricked into
meeting someone who wasn’t who they
A further complication: this week’s
revelation that McKeague was dating
April Oliver, 21, who says she is having
She says they were not in an exclusive
relationship, however, and he does not
seem to have known she was pregnant.
Police this week re-searched buildings
adjacent to the ‘horseshoe’ area, including
a branch of Superdrug and Greggs, but to
The absence of credible evidence about
his fate has duly spawned a slew of wild
conspiracy theories, many of which are
aired on Facebook.
These have ranged from the unlikely
suggestion that he attempted to walk
home, but wandered on to one of the
many free range pig farms en route,
where he was eaten by the animals, to
speculation that he somehow engineered
his own disappearance by vanishing down
a storm drain and sneaking out of the
centre of town via a sewer.
Others wonder if he accidentally
stumbled upon a drug deal, or somehow
managed to evade detection by CCTV
cameras by drunkenly crawling out of the
centre of town (and then jumping into a
car which offered him a lift).
His mobile phone’s apparent appearance
12 miles away has sparked several theories
involving a robbery, while the presence
of road works in town has also prompted
speculation that he somehow fell into a
hole in the road and disappeared.
Then there are inevitable contributions
by supposed clairvoyants, along with
comments by individuals who believe
in the possibility of alien abduction.
And with every passing day, the sense of
mystery about this perplexing case seems
to deepen. — New Zealand Herald
Vanished into thin air
Corrie McKeague, left, in uniform. CCTV footage of him that night, and right, in civvies.
New Zealand scientists have published
another study exploring links between
concussions suffered while playing rugby
and long-term impacts on brain function.
The new study, just published in the
New Zealand Medical Journal, failed
to find a firm connection between
concussion and brain problems and later
life but its lead author emphasised more
research was needed.
The issue has increasingly come under
the spotlight over recent years, with New
Zealand Rugby and Statistics NZ last
year launching an inquiry into possible
increased risks of dementia.
It followed an unscientific NZ Herald
series about possible links between rugby
and dementia experienced by a number of
All Black and Taranaki rugby legends.
In August, New Zealand research
revealed a definitive link between
concussion in rugby players and cognitive
difficulties following retirement.
Players who experienced one or more
concussions during their career were
found to perform worse in tests that
measure cognitive flexibility, complex
attention, executive function and
But findings of the new study, published
last week, were less clear.
The new paper compared corticomotor
function — the function of neural
pathways from the brain that control
movement — between former rugby and
non-contact sport players.
While elite rugby players were found
to have different corticomotor function,
the study found no evidence that this was
related to previous concussions.
Part of the wider Rugby Health Study
conducted by Auckland University of
Technology, in partnership with New
Zealand Rugby and World Rugby, the
study investigated brain excitability and
inhibition in retired rugby players at elite
and community level.
The results were compared to a control
group of former non-contact sport players.
The researchers found evidence of
altered corticomotor function in the
retired elite rugby players compared to the
non-contact sport control group.
Resting motor threshold was elevated
— reflecting reduced excitability, and
long-interval intracortical inhibition
was increased — indicating enhanced
inhibition, echoing some of the existing
research on the impact of concussion on
measures of motor cortex excitability.
Yet the study found these changes were
not evident in those who had played club
Both groups of retired rugby players
had experienced more concussions than
the non-contact sport group; 87% of
elite level and 855 of community level
players had experienced three or more
concussions, compared with 4% of non-
contact sport players.
Because of the absence of altered
corticomotor function among
the community rugby players,
the association between elite
players’ altered corticomotor
function and previous
concussions was found to be
AUT Associate Professor
Gwyn Lewis, who led the
study, said the larger build of
the retired elite players could
be a factor in the corticomotor
“The elite rugby participants
were significantly taller and
heavier than the non-contact
sport players, and had a
higher body mass index —
characteristics that may have
contributed to their increased
resting motor threshold.’’
But she emphasised there was
a need for further research.
“The study has established
the need for further research
into this aspect of rugby
players’ long-term health.
“Current and future elite
players would benefit from
learning more about the
differences in motor cortex
function they may experience,
which can impact the ability to
learn and perform new motor
— New Zealand Herald
Study probes rugby brain health legacy
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