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Lowestoft terror suspect 'has 15 cats' and went to mosque in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 18:58 30 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:42 31 July 2019

Emergency services at Normanshurst Close on Tuesday, July 30. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

Emergency services at Normanshurst Close on Tuesday, July 30. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

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A man arrested after grenades and chemicals were found in a Lowestoft home had converted to Islam and went to mosque in Norwich, neighbours have said.

A reduced cordon remains in place on Normanshurst Close in Lowestoft on Monday, July 29. PHOTO: Reece HansonA reduced cordon remains in place on Normanshurst Close in Lowestoft on Monday, July 29. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

A 59-year-old man, named locally as Clinton Hicks, has been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism after the discovery during a police raid at Normanshurst Close on Sunday.

Neighbours said Mr Hicks had "around 15 cats", was often seen feeding the seagulls and one neighbour said he had converted to Islam and made weekly trips to a mosque in Norwich.

Two inert military grenades and an imitation gun were found, along with various chemicals that led Suffolk Police to call in counter-terrorism investigators from the Metropolitan Police.

A 100-metre cordon was initially put in place and three neighbouring properties in Normanshurst Close evacuated as the inquiry continued.

Emergency services at Normanshurst Close on Tuesday, July 30. PHOTO: Reece HansonEmergency services at Normanshurst Close on Tuesday, July 30. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

The property that remains at the centre of the cordon is a flat in a two-storey block in a quiet cul-de-sac.

Neighbour Julie Grove, 69, said: "Everyone's friendly in this little road.

"You used to see him out every day with his cats and feeding the seagulls.

"He had all his cats and he'd stand out there with a notebook and let about three out at a time and he'd write the names down of the cats he'd let out."

She said he "kept himself to himself" but would throw bread in the road to feed the seagulls and would speak to a neighbour in an upstairs flat.

Ms Grove said Mr Hicks told the neighbour that he had converted to Islam and she said she would see the man getting picked up on a Friday morning.

"We know all about his connection, being picked up every Friday and being taken to Norwich to go to the mosque there," said Ms Grove.

"Someone would come and pick him up every Friday morning from Norwich and take him over to the mosque.

"We know he converted to Islam as he told the chap upstairs that he had."

Neighbour Andrew Reid, 46, said: "He's always using the telephone box at the end of the road and we just thought it was a bit strange to be honest.

"I've not had any dealings with him and I've been here now four years.

"He's never said hello or anything, he keeps himself to himself."

A neighbour who gave her name only as Suzy said the man lived alone.

"He's got about 15 cats and feeds all the seagulls, and that's about all we really know about him," she said.

"He's been here I don't know, about 15 years or more."

She added: "He's just weird."

Detective Chief Superintendent Alexis Boon, from the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command, said: "After a pre-planned operation by Suffolk Constabulary in which officers arrested a man, the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command is now leading this investigation, working closely with police in Suffolk.

"Suffolk Constabulary acted quickly to make the area safe, including erecting a cordon around the address as a precautionary measure while inquiries are ongoing, however we have found nothing to suggest an ongoing threat to the public.

"I would like to thank the community for its understanding and patience while officers continue this work.

"Local officers from Suffolk Constabulary Safer Neighbourhood Teams will remain at the scene over the coming days to continue to provide reassurance."

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