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Village cordoned off after bomb squad called to suitcase in businessman’s BMW

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Renford Sargent and car bomb ANL-160927-165138001
Renford Sargent and car bomb ANL-160927-165138001

A village was cordoned off on Sunday when the bomb squad was called in after a businessman found a mystery suitcase and two Middle Eastern passports in the boot of his car.

Renford Sargent, 69, of Dalham, discovered the black bag in his BMW 640 convertible at around 9.30am.

The previous day, Mr Sargent, who is chairman of travel agency, Premier Travel, and is on the board of Cambridge United football club, had picked up fellow director Graham Daniels from his Cambridge home before driving them both to Wales, to watch their team win 2-1.

After the match they drove home from Newport and following the eight-hour round trip, Mr Sargent pulled up at his home and went straight to bed. When he discovered the mystery bag the next day, with the two passports lying on top, he called police, who alerted bomb squad officers from Colchester who used a robot to remove the bag from the car.

“It looks like it was a mistake, unbelievably,” said Mr Sargent, after the case was blown up in his driveway and found to be harmless.

“Someone put a suitcase in the back of my car that should have gone into another car, in the five minutes I left it.”

He said when he had picked up Mr Daniels in Cambridge on Saturday morning, he went inside briefly and left his car unlocked. He had noticed a man of Middle Eastern appearance standing nearby.

“The odd thing is, I saw this chap standing 40 or 50 feet in front of the car. We just left and for whatever reason he didn’t try to stop us. He watched us get in the car and drive away.”

Police were running checks on the two passports and Mr Sargent said there was “enough suspicion” to think there could be something wrong with the suitcase.

“I said I hoped they could remove it from my car before blowing it up and they did,” he said. “We went down to the local pub and sat and waited for the noise, expecting to see bits of BMW flying across the pub.”

He added that the fact he drove to Wales and back with a suspected bomb in the back of his car was not something he would be allowed to forget in a hurry. “I’m going to face a bit of a ribbing from the football club,” he said.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: “Officers were contacted around 9.35am by a man who reported he had gone to his car, parked in Church Lane, and found a suitcase that did not belong to him in the boot of the vehicle.

“Police attended and, as a precautionary measure, a 200-metre cordon was put in place and the bomb disposal squad were alerted.”