Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Kevin Palmer missing: Fareham pub garden dug up

Kevin Palmer search Image copyright JAN BRAYLEY
Image caption Hampshire Constabulary said a new line of inquiry had led to the search

Police investigating the suspected murder of a man who disappeared 15 years ago are digging up the garden of a disused pub in Hampshire.

Kevin Palmer was in his 30s when he went missing on 12 March 1999, after a night out with friends.

A search for his body began at the Gordon Arms, in Gordon Road, Fareham, just after 07:30 GMT.

Hampshire Constabulary said a new line of inquiry had led the force to seal off the pub and the grounds.

Image caption Kevin Palmer was last seen at the Abshot Country Club in March 1999

"We are not able to give more details about the source of this information because of sensitive and confidential circumstances," said senior investigating officer, Det Supt Paul Barton.

"Nevertheless, the considered opinion of our detectives is that this information justifies a search for human remains within the garden of the former Gordon Arms pub."

'Involved in a fight'

Det Supt Barton said the information was "tangible enough to be examined in more detail at the scene" but he was not certain any evidence would be found, and that people should be cautious with their expectations.

No current or former residents at the address are under suspicion, and Mr Palmer's immediate next-of-kin have been informed, he added.

Mr Palmer's disappearance happened shortly after he arrived in the UK from Spain, where he was living at the time.

The last known sighting of him was at the Abshot Country Club on the evening of 12 March, 1999.

It is thought he caught a taxi with two other men back to an address in Bishops Waltham.

Image caption A search for Kevin Palmer's body is taking place at The Gordon Arms in Fareham

En-route, police believe Mr Palmer became involved in a fight with the other two passengers, before being left in Curbridge.

Det Supt Barton said he was still keen to trace the taxi driver from that night.

The force said one man was arrested in 2003 on suspicion of Mr Palmer's murder but later released because of insufficient evidence.

A second man was interviewed in Spain. A coroner recorded an open verdict on Mr Palmer's suspected death, after an inquest in 2009.

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