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Pictured: Retired Met Police Detective Superintendent who died ‘after setting his car ablaze’

A retired Met Police chief who is believed to have died when he set his car on fire outside his £1million mansion has been pictured.

Villagers confirmed to MailOnline Edwin Williams was the man who died in Cavendish near Sudbury, Suffolk, yesterday morning.

The former Detective Superintendent, who was aged in his 70s, was found dead by firefighters in the remains of his vehicle.

Locals revealed today he had been involved in a series of disputes with neighbours and other residents since moving to the village in 2004.

They claimed one of the issues was with officials at the 14th century St Mary the Virgin church opposite his home next to the village green.

Mr Williams had complained he had been ‘reduced to a frazzle’ by the noise of the church bells.

Villagers confirmed to MailOnline Edwin Williams (pictured) was the man who died in Cavendish near Sudbury, Suffolk, yesterday morning

A retired Met Police chief died inside his car which he set on fire outside his £1million mansion, reports suggest

A retired Met Police chief died inside his car which he set on fire outside his £1million mansion, reports suggest

The victim (his car on fire, pictured) was named locally as Edwin Williams, a former-Met Police Detective Superintendent in his 70s

The victim (his car on fire, pictured) was named locally as Edwin Williams, a former-Met Police Detective Superintendent in his 70s

Dr Graham Jenkin, a church warden in Cavendish, told MailOnline: ‘We are deeply shocked by what happened. There was an issue over the bells and that was dealt with at the time.

‘We then did not hear much from Edwin Williams, but recently there was quite a lot of abusive mail that came from him three years after the incident was sorted out by the previous rector.’

He added: ‘The abusive comments were not substantiated in any way by anything factual.’

Dr Jenkin refused to disclose details of Mr Williams’ complaints, but confirmed they ’emanated’ from the original dispute over the bells.

He added a letter had been sent to the Right Rev Martin Seeley, the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, prompting an investigation by the Diocesan registrar.

Mr Williams and his wife Jean had moved in 2004 to their Grade Two listed home overlooking the village green, but he lived alone after they split up several years ago.

Firefighters were at the scene (pictured) of yesterday's blaze within minutes and doused the flames - before discovering the body of Mr Williams in the driver's seat

Firefighters were at the scene (pictured) of yesterday’s blaze within minutes and doused the flames – before discovering the body of Mr Williams in the driver’s seat

Villagers said they heard an explosion at round 7.30am and looked out to see his grey Hyundai IX35 estate car on fire with flames shooting up to 30ft in the air.

The blaze sent a pall of black smoke rising above the village green and the heat was so intense that nobody could get near.

Firefighters were on the scene within minutes and doused the flames before finding the body of Mr Williams in the driver’s seat.

It is thought he started the fire after driving his car to the front of a next door neighbour’s house and parking it beside their two cars which were badly damaged.

Police closed the road for several hours until the charred remains of Mr Williams’ car were taken away.

A villager said: ‘He was always falling out with people and was not a very popular man.

‘He had various legal disputes with different neighbours over the years. He would complain about things like problems with drains and guttering causing damp in his house.

‘But his biggest issue was with the church bells. Most people in the village love the sound of the bells, but he would repeatedly moan about them.

‘He tried to get a petition started about the bells and would go and hammer on the doors of the church warden and the vicar to complain about them.

‘He normally parks on his own driveway at the side of his house behind a set of gates, but it seems he started the fire after parking deliberately beside his neighbour’s cars.

‘His neighbours are lovely people and did not deserve this aggravation.’

Another villager said: ‘I heard the most enormous bang first thing in the morning and looked out to see this car on fire with flames shooting in the air.

‘There was absolutely nothing that anyone could do. Nobody could get near and people only realised that there was a body in the car when the firefighters arrived and dealt with the fire.

‘He must have had something in the car to cause such a fierce fire and a big explosion.’

It is thought that he started the fire after driving his car to the front of a next door neighbour's house. He parked it beside their two cars which were badly damaged in the fire (pictured)

It is thought that he started the fire after driving his car to the front of a next door neighbour’s house. He parked it beside their two cars which were badly damaged in the fire (pictured)

Another villager added in a Facebook post: ‘I didn’t like him but he was obviously very ill.

‘In spite of his inability to reach out to people I feel we should have made more of an effort, as a community, to keep him in the loop – despite himself. When I say ”we” I do mean me in particular.’

Mr Williams sent an open letter complaining about the church bells after they were rung for three hours in October 2017 to commemorate a soldier who died in the First World War.

His letter said: ‘It was certainly prejudicial to my health, because, after one hour of it, I was reduced to a frazzle.’

It added: ‘Living near the church, I do not expect freedom from bells ringing. However, when a three-hour session blights my comfort and amenity, I intend to complain loudly and in the strongest possible terms.

‘I personally lost eight uncles during the Second World War, and doubt very much that I would be allowed a three-hour bell ringing session to celebrate their sacrifice.

‘In my opinion, this is just an excuse for additional bell ringing practice and amounts to selfish and inconsiderate conduct.’

Other villagers dismissed his complaints at the time, saying they enjoyed listening to the bells and had no problem with them.

A spokesman from the Diocesan Office of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich said: ‘We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear about this incident in our local community.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of this individual. We will be continuing to support the church community during this difficult time.’

Mr Williams also hinted at with this dis-satisfaction with village life in a letter he wrote to The Times in 2009, in which he sent sympathies to a Yorkshire family blighted by poison pen letters in their village.

He wrote: ‘Village life does not improve as you travel farther south.’

Mr Williams went on to quote a book, saying: ‘Gossip is the curse of village and country-town life.

‘The hamlet is corroded with uncharitableness, the pettiest feuds and jealousy, paltry snobberies and trumpery vanities.’

A Suffolk Police spokesman said today: ‘Police investigating the circumstances of an incident in Cavendish can confirm that they are not treating the death of a man as suspicious at this time.

‘Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and Police were called at just after 7.30am on Saturday to reports of a vehicle alight on The Green in the village.

‘The driver of the grey Hyundai IX35 estate car, a man in his 70s, sadly died at the scene. His next of kin have been notified. A file will be prepared for the coroner in due course.’

  • For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. See www.samaritans.org for details
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