Son killed himself with dad's loaded gun

A SON of the firearms dealer accused of keeping dozens of illegally-held weapons committed suicide with a gun kept at his father's home, a court heard. The gun used by Richard Ashley's son to kill himself had been stored loaded in a kitchen cupboard, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

A SON of the firearms dealer accused of keeping dozens of illegally-held weapons committed suicide with a gun kept at his father's home, a court heard.

The gun used by Richard Ashley's son to kill himself had been stored loaded in a kitchen cupboard, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Giving evidence yesterday, Richard Kennett, firearms licensing manager for Suffolk police, said when questioned at the time about the loaded gun being kept in the kitchen, Ashley had said he had been worried the IRA might come after him.

Mr Kennett added that, in his opinion, it was not appropriate to keep a gun together with ammunition outside an armoury.

He said in a file about the incident sympathy had been expressed for Ashley . He said no action had been taken to revoke any of Ashley's firearms licences because of the tragedy.

Asked by prosecution counsel Craig Rush if he had formed an opinion about the incident, Mr Kennett said: "In my opinion somebody who keeps a loaded firearm to hand shouldn't be allowed to possess firearms because of the obvious dangers that result from doing so."

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He admitted he found it difficult to understand why someone would continue to be so involved with firearms after such a tragic incident.

Ashley, of Pakenham, has denied five charges of possessing prohibited weapons without permission of the home secretary.

The 58-year-old, who supplied arms to Suffolk and Norfolk police, has claimed many of the guns found at his home were antiques. He also alleged a selection of machine-guns had been assembled from parts by police in an attempt to frame him.

Mr Kennett said he had no personal grudge against Ashley.

He also denied assembling parts of guns found at Ashley's home to make complete weapons or there had been a witch-hunt by his department against the armourer.

The trial continues today.

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