Parish Man in Weapons Haul


Revealed: Why ‘eccentric’ parish council chairman collected enough weapons ‘to start a small war’


An ‘eccentric’ parish council chairman found with Britain’s biggest ever illegal weapons haul told police he collected the arsenal to “keep guns away from criminals”.
Married dad-of-one Jim Arnold, 49, had enough military hardware to start a “small war” hidden in a secret armory behind a wall in his pantry.
His obsession with guns began when he was just 11-year-old and he went on to amass 463 illegal weapons – including an anti-tank missile and rocket launcher – and 200,000 rounds of ammunition.
Arnold managed to build up the collection under the noses of cops, who made repeated visits to his home to check on his 17 legally held weapons.

(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)
(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)
Suffolk Police present the Cache of arms found at the home of James Arnold (Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)

Detectives say the crane driver was just a “collector” and not involved in organised crime or terrorism.
Neighbour Eddie Gale, 74, said it was a “total shock” to villagers.
He described Jim as being an “eccentric collector” and added: “A guy from the police said that if Jim had had a fire at his place, my house wouldn’t be here now.”
DSI Steve Mattin said: “We were wondering if this was a lone wolf or a terrorist.

(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)
(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)

“If you look at it in terms of weaponry and ammo you could start a small war.
“With 463 weapons you could arm nine coachloads of individuals with over 400 rounds each.
“That’s what we were dealing with if this weaponry fell into the wrong hands.”
Arnold’s arsenal was more than 10 times larger than the previous biggest haul of illegal weapons seized by police.
He had 136 handguns, 177 rifles, 88 shotguns, 38 machine guns, over 400 detonators – including some which could be activated electronically by mobile phone, and 1000ft of detonating cord.
Among his collection was a WWII Mauser pistol bearing a third-reich ‘eagle’ stamp, .303 rifles dating to the Boer War, several AK47s, a brand-new Bren gun from 1947 and a .50 calibre aircraft machine gun taken from a B17 Flying Fortress.

(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)
(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)

All of the weapons – which would cost upwards of £100,000 to buy – were live and Arnold had viable rounds for every single gun.
DS Neill Rumsey interviewed Arnold in Belmarsh High Security Prison three weeks before he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in a final bid to convince him to reveal the truth.
DS Rumsey said: “He took the stance right from the off that he was a maverick who wanted to keep these guns off the street.
“He said they were there for safekeeping like he was providing a public service. He hated being associated with criminals.
“He said he had once fired a sawn off shotgun and the outcome was frightening and he wouldn’t do it again.”
Martin Parker, forensic scientist at the National Ballistics Intelligence Service, so: “None of the weapons in his possession connect with any crime committed since 2002.”
Arnold told police he was angry that new gun laws were introduced following the Dunblane school massacre.
DS Rumsey added: “He didn’t see why he should give up guns he could have lawfully held previously.
“He was a gun nut, he loved guns. He had ammunition for every single gun he had got.”
Arnold was first issued with a shotgun licence in 1984 and ended up legally owning seven handguns – which he fired at gun clubs – and ten shotguns.

(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)
(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)

Outwardly, he was an upstanding member of the community of Wyverstone, Suffolk, where we lived with his wife Lyn, 47, and their daughter.
But he went to great lengths to hide illegal weapon collection during multiple visits by firearms control officers.
That was until April 2014 when two assault allegations were made against him.
Police immediately attended his home and were stunned to find 60 illegal weapons strewn across the lounge floor – including some above the mantelpiece.

(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)
(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)

When the property was measured detectives discovered Arnold had built a secret room next to his kitchen larder.
DSI Mattin explained: “To all intents and purposes this was a pantry with nothing remarkable about it at all.
“But when we looked in depth we found a false wooden wall and behind it a safe.
“Through that safe door you could crawl down a small tunnel and enter a hide where the weapons were kept.”
A further hide containing ammunition and handguns was found in the floor of the master bedroom.
The discovery sparked a 27 day search of Arnold’s semi-detached four-bed home and the eight acres of land behind it.
Over 49 officers, the MI5 and members of the military were involved and the operation cost police £267,000.
They had to painstakingly search a 200m long ‘fence’ Arnold built from hundreds of railway sleepers – standing 8ft tall.
Detectives trawled through Arnold’s paperwork, bank accounts, internet history and phone records.
But no evidence of where the majority of the guns came from was discovered.

(Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)
Suffolk Police present the Cache of arms found at the home of James Arnold (Photo: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror)

Cops say his wife Lyn Arnold was “unaware” of the extent of his collection.
The 47-year-old, who still lives in the house, said: “I’m trying to put it behind me, it’s been a horrible process.
“I don’t really want to say any more about it.”
Arnold, who was given just six months to live when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2013, died in prison in July 2014.
DSI Mattin added: “There’s a lot of questions that we still haven’t got the answers to.
“He gave very few answers but he did mention he got the firearms from a man some years ago.
“The gist of it was he had these weapons and he was keeping them safe.”
Details of Arnold’s gun collection could only be reported today after a firearms dealer who supplied him with a small number of weapons was jailed.
Anthony Buckland, 65, was was found guilty of 11 counts of selling a prohibited weapon and nine counts of fraud at Norwich Crown Court.
Jailing him for six years Judge Stephen Holt said: “In your profession a great deal of trust had been placed in you and it is quite clear you abused that trust.”