Former top cop dies in car fireball on village green after church bells dispute

A former Metropolitan Police chief has died after his car was engulfed in a fireball on a village green.

Edwin Williams, who was in his 70s and a former Detective Superintendent in the force, died in the blaze on Saturday in the village of Cavendish, near Sudbury, Suffolk.

Villagers heard a huge explosion and looked out to see Mr Williams' grey Hyundai IX35 estate car on fire at roughly 7.30am, with flames shooting up to 30ft in the air.

Firefighters were on the scene within minutes and doused fire, before discovering the body of Mr Williams in the driver's seat, reports The Mirror.

Officers are not thought to be treating the death of Mr Williams as suspicious and believe nobody else was involved, although two other cars were damaged in the blaze.

It emerged Mr Williams, who was living alone since he split from his wife Jean several years ago, had been a series of disputes with villagers and complained bitterly about the church bells.

One 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.

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"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."

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

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.

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"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."

Another resident there was "absolutely nothing that anyone could do" to save Mr Williams and speculated he must have had something in the car to "cause such a fierce fire and a big explosion".

They added: "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. People only realised that there was a body in the car when the firefighters arrived and dealt with the fire."

A Suffolk Police spokesperson said: "Police can confirm that a man has died following a car fire in Cavendish. 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."

They have also appealed for witnesses and any dashcam footage that may have caught the incident.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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