Fingerprints found on the damaged drone recovered from near Gatwick Airport do not match those of any known eco warriors, MailOnline can reveal.
Sussex Police ran the prints through the National Fingerprint Database but they drew a blank.
It means detectives are no nearer to tracking down the culprit who grounded 760 flights at Britain’s second biggest airport by continuously buzzing drones over the airfield last week in the run up to Christmas.
Sussex Police are pictured at Gatwick Airport. Detectives are no nearer to tracking down the culprit who grounded 760 flights at Britain’s second biggest airport
Despite a huge manhunt, the mystery drone pilot continued to taunt Army snipers dotted along the runway, helicopters and 20 police units
With fears a drone could take down a passenger jet, the airport was shut down twice and the army scrambled with strict orders to shoot down any drones straying too near.
Officers revealed last weekend they had found a broken drone in a field near the airport that they thought may have been responsible for the disruption.
However police source revealed: ‘The fingerprints found on that drone belong to a clean skin – someone unknown to the police.
Counter drone equipment was deployed on a rooftop at Gatwick airport last weekend as the airport and airlines worked to clear the backlog caused by the incident
Sussex cops were criticised for arresting married couple Paul and Elaine Kirk-Gait on December 21 before releasing them without charge 36-hours later
‘Sussex Police have been working alongside the Met, who hold the National Fingerprint Database, which contains, among others, the biometric information of thousands of extremists from terrorists to far right activists and eco warriors.
‘The prints found on the drone did not match any of those on the Yard’s database.
‘It’s a blow because police were hoping this may give them a new lead in the case.’
Sussex cops were criticised for arresting married couple Paul and Elaine Kirk-Gait on December 21 before releasing them without charge 36-hours later.
Mr Gait, who lives a mile from Gatwick, used to fly drones and model aircraft outside his house.
However his boss was able to confirm that he was at work – as part of a three man team fitting windows – during most of the drone sightings.
The couple said their ‘privacy and identity’ had been ‘completely exposed’ after being named in the media and their home searched.
Mr Gait, who lives a mile from Gatwick, used to fly drones and model aircraft outside his house. Mr Gait and his wife, from Crawley, West Sussex, later added: ‘Those that knew us didn’t doubt us for a second’
Mr Gait said: ‘We are deeply distressed, as are our family and friends, and we are currently receiving medical care.
‘The way we were initially perceived was disgusting.
Mr Gait and his wife, from Crawley, West Sussex, later added: ‘Those that knew us didn’t doubt us for a second.’
In the wake of the arrests, Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley of Sussex Police made the bizarre claim that there may never have been a drone but quickly followed it up by saying another theory was that the disruption may have been sparked by the damaged drone.
Chaos was caused by drone sightings at Gatwick Airport on December 19 as passengers were left stranded
Speaking last Sunday, he said: ‘Always look at it with an open mind, but actually it’s very basic common sense that a damaged drone, which may have not been there at a particular point in time has now been seen by an occupier, a member of the public, and then they’ve told us, ‘we’ve found this’.
‘Then we go and forensically recover it and do everything we can at that location to try and get a bit more information.’
More than 350,000 people had their Christmas travel plans thrown into chaos, with several forced to sleep on the terminal floor at Gatwick for two nights after local hotels reached full capacity.
Passengers trying to get home for the festive season were trapped in the airport and on planes as police were called in
The runway was shut down and airport bosses had to warn passengers not to come before checking with their airline.
Despite a huge manhunt, the mystery drone pilot continued to taunt Army snipers dotted along the runway, helicopters and 20 police units.
The person behind the chaos, is rumoured to be a ‘lone wolf eco-warrior’ or an organised expert rather than a ‘hobbyist’.
Transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said police had ‘not handled their communication response well’ while Tory MP John Woodcock said: ‘This whole sorry episode shows why we need a nationally agreed and understood robust procedure for dealing with incidents like this.
‘The country has been caught on the hop. There may be a case for a different police force [to get involved].’