Tragic End and Unanswered Questions: The Mystery of the Unidentified Man at London-Gatwick Airport - Istanbul Airport Meet and Assist

Tragic Discovery at London-Gatwick Airport

A United Kingdom (UK) court shed light on a somber event involving an unidentified man, who met a tragic end after being discovered hidden in the undercarriage of a TUI operated plane. This incident unfolded on December 7, 2022, when staff at London-Gatwick Airport (LGW), specifically within the North Terminal, found the man’s body at approximately 4 am. The discovery was made on the right side of the plane, in the wheel well, shortly after its arrival from Banjul International Airport (BJL) in The Gambia at 3:30 am.

The deceased was found wearing a dark-colored fleece top, tracksuit-type bottoms, plastic-style sandals, and notably, no socks. The absence of any form of identification on the man propelled Sussex Police to initiate a public appeal for assistance in both the UK and The Gambia. An e-fit image of the man, presumed to be in his 20s or 30s, was circulated in an effort to identify him.

Investigation and Inquest Findings

Despite these efforts, the man remained unidentified. Joanne Andrews, area coroner for West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, expressed deep regret over this fact during a hearing at the Chichester Coroner’s Court on February 14, 2024. The coroner stated, “On the evidence, it is more likely than not I will have to record his death as an anonymous male. It is extremely sad he has not been able to be identified,” highlighting the poignant nature of the case.

The coroner concluded that the man likely accessed the undercarriage prior to takeoff, ultimately succumbing to hypothermia. This conclusion underscores the perilous conditions endured during the over 3,500-mile journey from The Gambia to the UK, where temperatures can plummet to –55C degrees at cruising altitude. Although the inquest has been closed, the possibility of reopening it remains, should new evidence emerge.

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