Shotley siege ends peacefully

PUBLISHED: 14:30 14 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 March 2010

LIFE in a Suffolk community was back to normal today after an 11 hour siege involving armed police.

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By Nick Richards and Victoria Knowles

LIFE in a Suffolk community was back to normal today after an 11 hour siege involving armed police.

The drama over the weekend at Shotley Gate ended peacefully on Saturday night when an unarmed man was led away by police and taken to Ipswich police station where he was questioned by officers.

He was released on police bail yesterday afternoon charged with criminal damage and is due to appear before magistrates in Ipswich on Wednesday.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, but officers, along with fire crews and paramedics spent a long day waiting for the 43-year-old man to give himself up.

Earlier, police were first alerted to the house in Blake Avenue following a call that a domestic incident had taken place and a man was threatening to harm himself.

Three people, the man's partner and two children, left the house at 8.30am, 15 minutes after the incident had started.

With the help of trained negotiators, police spent the rest of the morning, afternoon and early evening attempting to encourage the man to leave the house.

Some of the neighbouring houses on Blake Avenue were evacuated as police blocked off access to the street at the end of Kitchener Way and the junction of the B1456.

Residents in Blake Avenue were not allowed back into their houses until the incident had ended and throughout the day, they, together with a small crowd of adults and children from nearby houses gathered close to the incident.

Next door neighbour Sally Game said the family were new to the area and had since kept a low profile.

"They are normally fairly quiet - he seems quite friendly. They've been here for a few months but we've hardly ever seen him. He's pleasant and says hello."

Robert and Tracey Dextor, who live in Blake Avenue, said that had been unable to get back into their house since leaving early on Saturday.

"We went into Ipswich in the morning and came back at 2.30pm. We live two doors away and we have been standing around since then. We want to get back as we have animals in the house."

Ann Graham, also of Blake Avenue, said the family involved in the siege kept themselves to themselves.

"They have not been living there long, maybe a year.

"The woman sometimes comes in to the post office but we do not see her very often.

"They have two kids, their daughter must be about three and the son looks like a young teenager. They seem on the outside like a fairly normal family."

Michael Newstead, who also lives in Blake Avenue, said he had been told by police to get back inside when he tried to leave his home.

He said: "Police are hiding round the corner of a house and telling people to get back inside.

"I was intending to go out at about 10am but they were quite definite saying 'Get out, go back, go back'."

Police spokesman Simon Stevens said: "At about 8.15 this morning (Saturday) police received a call to say a domestic was occurring in Blake Avenue, Shotley Gate.

"We attended the scene and understood that a man was in a house threatening to harm himself.

"Shortly after that what was believed to be his partner and two children left the house. They were unharmed.

"Trained negotiators are there and have made contact with the man and are trying to bring things to a peaceful conclusion.

"Officers and back up are at the scene because we believe he may have a weapon."

By 4.20pm, there were two fire engines in attendance, paramedic teams and several police cars.

At 4.50pm there was a rumble of activity as six or seven police officers assembled outside a house two doors away and looked prepared to enter the house at the centre of the siege.

Local residents and the emergency services stood in silence with only the shouts of the trained negotiators interrupting the warm autumn afternoon.

At 6.30pm, with the sky darkening and no end to the situation in sight, a mobile police unit was brought into nearby Kitchener Way.

Then, at 6.53pm, police began to unload riot shields from a van, but in the house the situation was already coming to end.

With a few shouts and barks of a police dog, the siege was over.

Mr Stevens said: "The man was detained by officers - no weapons were drawn and no officers were injured."

The officer in charge of the incident Supt Kevin Sloane said: "We are pleased that this situation has been resolved without injury and we would like to thank the residents of Shotley for their co-operation and patience during this protracted incident."

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