Wyverstone: Parish council chairman Jim Arnold charged with firearms offences dies after police find one of the country’s largest weapons’ hauls.
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A large cache of weapons and ammunition discovered at a Suffolk parish council chairman’s home is understood to be one of the biggest hauls of its kind in the country, it can be revealed.
Suffolk Constabulary has declined to disclose the exact number of firearms involved following the death of village stalwart James Arnold, of Wyverstone, near Stowmarket, as it says investigations are still ongoing.
However it is understood the number of weapons, including automatic firearms, runs into three figures.
The continuing police enquiries follow a four-week search of Mr Arnold’s home in Potash Lane, which began in April and continued until early May.
Officers also found a vast amount of ammunition and several controlled explosions were carried out at the property.
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The Metropolitan Police, Ministry of Defence and other law enforcement agencies were said to have been involved during the search.
Mr Arnold had been due to appear before Ipswich Crown Court on Friday for a plea and case management hearing.
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Yesterday during a hearing at the same court the Crown Prosecution Service discontinued the case against him as the 49-year-old died on July 14 while on remand in custody.
Mr Arnold had been suffering from terminal cancer when he was arrested in April.
Originally Mr Arnold was charged with only four firearms offences following his arrest in April. However, it is understood more allegations would have been laid against him as the case progressed.
The charges he had been facing since his first hearing before West Suffolk Magistrates Court in Bury St Edmunds related to possessing an Uzi machine gun, an AK47 assault rifle, a bolt action shotgun and a self-loading rifle gun.
Last night a spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “We can confirm that James Arnold died on 14 July, 2014, and that the Crown Prosecution Service has discontinued the case against Mr Arnold.”
In April police said the search of Mr Arnold’s cottage and its four acres of land had yielded a ‘significant’ number of weapons.
Specialist search teams from Suffolk Police, with the assistance of officers from the Metropolitan Police searched the property, outbuildings and land.
At the time a spokeswoman said: “A significant number of weapons have been recovered so far. The Bomb Disposal Squad has also been in attendance and have carried out a number of controlled explosions as a precautionary measure.
“Around 50 officers are currently working on the investigation, including Safer Neighbourhood Team officers carrying out reassurance patrols and visits, officers on the cordon for scene preservation and search teams.
Eddie Gale, vice chairman of Wyverstone Village Hall, said: “There has been a terrific police presence. It’s been non-stop.
“We have had bomb disposal, armed response units and a helicopter.
“Jim (Arnold) is chairman of the parish council and he was, until he was diagnosed with cancer, my vice chairman at the village hall.
“He’s a great asset to the village. I think everybody finds it very strange. He’s a fairly quiet man and plays a great part in the running of the village.
“Nothing usually happens in Wyverstone. Of course people are very shocked.
“He’s stood back a lot recently because of his cancer. He told me last March (2013) he had been given five months to live.
“I still find it hard to believe he’s involved in anything serious.”