Gatwick drone suspects released without charge

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Sussex Police arrested two suspects after the drone chaos at Gatwick. However, after holding the 47-year-old man and his 54-year-old wife from Crawley, West Sussex for less than a day, they have been released. Now, police will resume their search for possible suspects in the drone disturbance that closed Gatwick Airport for two days. Although the police insist that this does not mean they are back at square one, there do not seem to be further leads.

Jason Tingley is the detective chief superintendent of Sussex Police. He said:

“Both people have fully co-operated with our inquiries and I am satisfied that they are no longer suspects in the drone incidents.”

However, by the time the police decided to release them, they were already all over the news. The local press had used headlines like “Are these the morons who ruined Christmas?” Piers Morgan also tweeted a photo of the suspects with a caption that read “clowns.” He later apologized. The Sussex Police released the two suspects after 36 hours of custody. Friends and family were frustrated that the police arrested them in the first place.

Tingley also addressed the press disclosing the identity of the suspects:

 “We would not have chosen in any event to provide that information to anyone… and one might say that’s probably hindered us in terms of how quickly we’ve been able to get to a resolution in terms of them being released from custody.”

No Drones?

Witness sighting of drones led to officials to close the second largest airport in England for a third time in three days. This scenario left around 140,000 passengers stranded. However, Detective Tingley said that there might never have been a drone to begin with. He said all the evidence that pointed to there being drones on the scene were eyewitnesses and that they could not obtain any actual footage of the drones. It’s possible that the witnesses who saw the drones were mistaken (though there were 200 sighting and 67 police statement taken).

Tingley also added that the weather was bad during the time the airport was shut. It was, therefore, entirely plausible that the 67 drone sightings were something else entirely.

The Sussex Police are currently busy investigating into the remains of a drone they found near the premises of the airport. Forensic analysis of the remains will likely lead to a better understanding of the situation. The police can then narrow down suspects once they are sure the remains belong to a drone that led to the crisis.

Tingley also said:

“We are also going through many reports of sightings of drone activity over the last few days. We are meticulously going through that information to see if that produces any other further lines of inquiry, and also where we may focus our efforts in terms of house-to-house inquiries, CCTV footage, and any other information that will help us work through this investigation.”

What Now?

Gatwick Airport has officially announced a prize of 50,000 pounds for information on the possible drone chaos that leads to the arrest of the culprits. They put this prize up on Crimestoppers. 

Officials finally declared the airport operational on Friday after several delays spanning three days. The UK military forces did not disclose what equipment they used to clear the air of any potential interfering drones. Analysts claim that the military most likely used Israeli Drone Dome system to jam any nearby drones and make it possible for the airport to resume its functions.

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