Man who sparked terrorism alert admits firearms offences

Police cordon on Normanshurst Close, Lowestoft, on Wednesday, July 31 last year Picture: REECE HANSO

Police cordon on Normanshurst Close, Lowestoft, on Wednesday, July 31 last year Picture: REECE HANSON - Credit: Archant

A Lowestoft man who triggered a terrorism alert which resulted in parts of a housing estate being evacuated by police will be sentenced in April after a psychological report has been prepared on him.

Emergency services at Normanshurst Close on Tuesday, July 30 Picture: REECE HANSON

Emergency services at Normanshurst Close on Tuesday, July 30 Picture: REECE HANSON - Credit: Archant

Dozens of homes were evacuated after suspicious items were found at Clinton Hicks' terraced house in Normanshurst Close, Lowestoft, in July last year during a pre-planned search by police officers.

After searching the property, officers recovered two military grenades, a firearm and chemicals.

Army bomb disposal officers joined police and Suffolk Fire and Rescue teams at the scene.

While the grenades were assessed and found to be inert, counter terrorism officers were called to assist the recovery of the chemicals.

Hicks, 59, of Normanshurst Close, Lowestoft, was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm and also on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism

On Monday January 27 he admitted possessing a prohibited firearm - a BBM Bruni Model 380L revolver which had a barrel less than 30cm in length and was less than 60cm in length overall on July 28 last year.

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He had denied the charge but pleaded guilty on what would have been the first day of his trial at Ipswich Crown Court.

Hicks was remanded in custody to be sentenced on April 17.

William Carter, prosecuting, said it became clear during the investigation that Hicks wasn't involved in terrorism.

"The gun was imported at Mr Hicks's order from a Spanish company," he said.

Mr Carter said the weapon could fire blanks but it was "not particularly difficult to work out" how to make it fire live rounds.

Edward Renvoize, defending, said: "The mechanism for firing a missile from this particular item would be unusual."

Judge Emma Peters said: "Unusual but not impossible."

Mr Renvoize said Hicks "appears to have led an extremely lonely life", seeing few people other than visiting his local mosque and caring for animals at home.

Hicks had served in the Royal Signals for 10 months in 1985, the court heard.

He had post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered from a heart condition, Mr Renvoize said.

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