A FIFTEEN year old Hampshire murder mystery has flared back into life.

Kevin John Palmer disappeared in 1999 after he was last seen heading by taxi towards Bishop’s Waltham.

Police believe he is dead and have begun a new search for the body by digging up the garden of the Gordon Arms pub in Fareham.

Mr Palmer went missing in March 1999 after a night out with friends. His disappearance happened shortly after arriving in the UK from Spain, where he was living at the time. Mr Palmer, who was aged in his 30s, has never been found.

Detectives from Hampshire Constabulary's Major Investigation Team are pursuing leads following a recent routine cold case review.

Detective Superintendent Paul Barton said: “Each unsolved murder across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is reviewed routinely by a dedicated team of experienced detectives.

“A recent assessment of information received about the whereabouts of Kevin John Palmer prompted a line of enquiry, which has taken us to this address in Fareham.”

Det Supt Barton said the last sighting was at the Abshot Country Club on the evening of March 12, 1999 when it is believed he caught a taxi with two other men back to an address in Bishop’s Waltham.

“En route it is suspected that Mr Palmer became involved in a fight with the other two passengers in Curbridge and was left there.

“I am really keen to trace the taxi driver from that night. Please make contact with detectives from the Operation Arkholme team at Southampton Central police station.”

One man was arrested in 2003 by Hampshire Constabulary on suspicion of Mr Palmer's murder. He was later released with no further action due to insufficient evidence at that time. A second man was interviewed in Spain.

Witnesses or anyone with information are asked to contact the Hampshire Major Investigation Team (HMIT) at Southampton Central police station by phoning 101 and quoting Operation Arkholme. Mini-com users can phone 18001 101. If you wish to remain anonymous, please phone the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.