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Retired Met Police chief dies ‘after setting his car ablaze’

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

The victim has been named locally as Edwin Williams, a former-Met Police Detective Superintendent in his 70s.

Mr Williams, who lived alone, had several legal disputes with neighbours and other villagers in Cavendish near Sudbury, Suffolk.

He had repeatedly complained about the noise of the bells at a nearby church, claimed locals – who described him as ‘not a very popular man’.

Mr Williams is understood to have driven his car to the front of a neighbour’s house before setting it alight himself, while he was still inside.

The blaze was so hot, no one ‘could get near’ it and onlookers did not know there was a man in the car until firefighters found Mr Williams’ body in the driver’s seat. 

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

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 of today’s blaze within minutes and doused the flames – before discovering the body of Mr Williams. 

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. 

Police closed the road for several hours until Mr Williams’ car was taken away.

Officers are not thought to be treating the death of Mr Williams as suspicious and believe that nobody else was involved. 

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

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

‘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.

‘I think in the past, he had some sort of restraining order put on him to stop him harassing one neighbour.

‘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.’

Mr Williams wrote an open letter in October 2017, saying he had been ‘reduced to a frazzle’ by the noise of the church bells ringing at nearby 14th century St Mary the Virgin’s church in Cavendish. 

They had rung for three hours to commemorate a soldier who died in World War One. 

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

He wrote: ‘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 Suffolk Police spokesperson said: ‘Police can confirm that a man has died following a car fire in Cavendish.

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)

‘Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and Police were called at just after 7.30am today 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. The man’s next of kin have been notified.

‘Two other cars, parked nearby, were damaged as a result of the fire.’

Police have appealed for information from any witnesses, or anyone driving in the area at around 7.30am who had a dashcam in their vehicle.

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

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