THE family of missing RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague have put up a £50,000 reward – donated by an anonymous business couple.
The campaign will also be hiring a private investigator and data analyst after raising more than £20,000 from the public in 24 hours.
Both steps reflect growing concern about the effectiveness of the Suffolk Police investigation into finding the 23-year-old, originally from Dunfermline, Fife, who went missing almost 11 weeks ago.
Corrie, an RAF gunner from Dunfermline, Fife, hasn’t been seen since CCTV filmed him walking into a dead-end, loading bay in Bury St Edmunds at 3.25am on September 24.
His uncle, Tony Wringe, from Edinburgh, sent a reward poster to 71,000 members on the Finding Corrie Facebook page last night.
Referring to the appeal mobile numbers, the poster states: “Due to lack of resources within Suffolk Police, these phones will be answered by Corrie’s family and trusted close friends.”
He said: “At the last update we told everyone that we were working on a plan of action to step up the search for Corrie, which included Nicola offering a substantial reward provided by an anonymous local business couple.
“We have been holding back on launching it because the Investigation team and Suffolk Police were struggling to cope with answering the few calls a week they were receiving already.”
Mr Wringe, a former serviceman, added: “We wanted to try and give them an opportunity to prepare for the increase in volume. They have not, but still knowingly permitted another family member to post a reward without informing Nicola.
“We are gravely concerned that any information provided will not be effectively collected, collated and acted upon.
“We have therefore decided to put our plan into action, including the offer of a reward to encourage new information to be provided.”
The Just Giving page, We’re raising £20,000 to help find RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague”, has raised £20, 546 from 1,815 donations since being set up on Tuesday night.
The page, endorsed by Nicola and Corrie’s brothers Makeyan and Darroch read: “The police investigation team, through a combination of lack of resources, intransigence and incompetence have failed to capture and process vital evidence and still lack the basic resources to efficiently process a tiny number of phone calls per week.
“After so many weeks of managing this search, Corrie’s mum, Nicola and his brothers Makeyan and Darroch are now desperately seeking your assistance to allow them to continue the search.
“With your support we would like to use all funds to fund the appointment of a Private Investigator.
“Fund a data analyst to undertake the work the Police are not capable or resourcing. Collect, collate and analyse all of the information gathered so far that will continue to be collected.”
Hundreds of followers have left messages of support for the family, hoping the £50,000 reward will make a difference.
Susan Pascal said: “Thank God you now have the resources to investigate yourselves. I trust your skills and Tony’s far more than an underfunded over stretched police force. Find Corrie, bring him home.”
Deb Munro wrote: “It’s painfully sad that money is so vital now. My heart says they don’t deserve that money, not a single penny if they’ve known something all this time but we also need Corrie home.”
And Carol Relf said: “I cannot believe how badly this family has been let down by the police and government cuts.
“They should all be bloody ashamed of themselves if it was one of their family money would be no object why can’t the police do the job properly or just get people that can.”
Corrie, who was based in Honington, Suffolk, joined his friends in Flex nightclub but left well before closing time, slightly unsteady through drink, and headed for something to eat.
He was last spotted on CCTV around 03.25am walking alone and eating takeaway food.
On Tuesday Nicola said in an interview: “The police have behaved in such a way that they have utterly destroyed any faith or trust I have in them actually trying to do something to find Corrie.
“They have absolutely destroyed my belief that they are competent and they know what they’re doing.
“This is more than just resources, this is an utter betrayal of trust.”
On Wednesday, Suffolk Police issued a lengthy statement defending their handling of the case.
The force stated: “We continue to investigate Corrie’s disappearance and our focus remains on finding him and discovering what happened.
“Since he was reported as missing police, supported by a variety of partner agencies, including the RAF and Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue, have been carrying out extensive enquiries to try and find him.
“A large area in Bury St Edmunds and surrounding areas has been searched, hundreds of hours of CCTV footage has been viewed, reviewed and analysed. A considerable amount of work has been carried out behind the scenes and this is a complex and comprehensive investigation, with police officers carefully and closely examining all possibilities.
“All the work completed by Suffolk Police has been reviewed by other constabularies to ensure everything possible is being done.
“This work continues – and will continue.
“We would like to thank all those who have assisted with this to date and continue to urge anyone with information that may help to call the incident room on 01473 782019 or Crimestoppers, anonymously if required, on 0800 555 111.”
Please donate at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpfindcorrie?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Yimbyprojectpage&utm_content=helpfindcorrie&utm_campaign=projectpage-share-owner&utm_term=Q5596NB6Z