July 31 2014 Latest news:
Andrew Hirst and Will Lodge
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Controlled explosions were carried out yesterday in the Suffolk village at the centre of a firearms investigation which has shocked the community.
Suffolk Constabulary’s Sergeant Jon Taylor said the bomb squad had been called to “dispose of some produce” that had been found at the property in Wyverstone, near Stowmarket, following investigations, which began last Sunday, April 13.
Several loud bangs echoed across quiet countryside shortly after 4pm as residents neighbouring the home of parish council chairman James Arnold looked on in disbelief.
Arnold, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, is facing two charges of assault and four counts of possession of a prohibited weapon. The weapons charges relate to an Uzi machine gun, AK47 assault rifle, a bolt-action shotgun and a self-loading rifled gun.
Appearing before magistrates in Ipswich yesterday, the 49-year-old husband and father entered no plea to the weapons charges and was deemed too ill to enter pleas over the assault charges.
Police first attended the address in Potash Road on Sunday, April 13, following reports of an assault.
Officers arrested Arnold and searched the property.
Neighbours say the days which followed have been a “nightmare” of uncertainties.
One, who gave his name only as David, said: “No-one is telling us anything, they won’t say how long it’s going on for, whether there’s any danger or anything,” he said.
“It’s been like this for the past week, it all goes quiet then all of a sudden everything kicks off, the police move in and all hell breaks loose.
“It’s been a total nightmare.”
Anne and Rob Hornsblow, who live with their children just metres from the property, said the police had told them what information they could, although they still felt unsure of exactly what was going on.
“Everyone in the village is wondering what’s going,” said Mrs Hornsblow.
“There’s a lot more talking going on and everyone seems to be taking their dogs for a walk outside our house to see what’s been happening.”
Other villagers, who refused to give their name, say they have been told to expect the heavy police presence to remain in the village for another fortnight while further searches are carried out of Arnold’s four-and-a-half acre garden.
“We are mystified really,” said one man.
Sgt Taylor said the investigation had “far reaching implications” for the whole force, with officers drafted in from across the county.
Although he said there was some information that could not be made public, he added that officers had carried out “an awful lot of work” with the local community to keep them informed where possible.
Arnold will appear before Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on April 28 for a further hearing on the assault charges.
He is due before Ipswich Crown Court on May 1 for a hearing into the weapons charges.