Police Apache helicopter blows up vicarage

By  | 

By Rob Banks, Crime Editor

Suffolk Police have been forced to ditch their new Apache gunship helicopter after it accidentally blew up a 19th-century vicarage.

Far from deterring criminals with its fearsome firepower, the deadly attack chopper has suffered a series of setbacks after police helicopter pilots became baffled by its sophisticated systems.

The final straw came when a pilot attempted to turn on a camera to track a suspected bicycle thief – but instead activated the helicopter’s deadly Target Acquisition and Designation System.

As a result, the gunship’s automatic systems took over and it fired off a lethal sidewinder missile that smashed into a vicarage in Needham Market.

Vicar Evan Elpuss explained: “I was taking afternoon tea in the garden with some ladies from the Women’s Institute. Suddenly we heard the roar of an engine on the horizon, and watched in awe as this huge military-style helicopter rose above the treeline in the distance.

“It looked like it was following a bloke on a bicycle, but then we watched in horror as there was a puff of smoke and a missile was launched.

“It came straight over the primary school and towards us, and was seemingly homing in on the heat generated by the solar panels on the vicarage roof.

“It smacked straight into it, and destroyed the whole place. Luckily none of us were hurt, although Gladys Worthington-Smythe was hit on the toe by a falling flower pot.”

The Apache was grounded immediately and an investigation launched by the Suffolk Police Chief Constable.

Police crews only took delivery of the Apache helicopter two weeks ago, as revealed exclusively in the Suffolk Gazette.

A police spokesman said: “We’ve sent it back to the Ministry of Defence. The crew were trying to get to grips with the hi-tech kit on the Apache, but in doing so they got confused and fired off a missile.

“Sadly, this then went on to destroy a pleasant Victorian vicarage, and for that we can only apologise.”

The £13 million police Apache helicopter is now being mothballed. In its place, Suffolk Crime Commissioner Tim Passless has ordered a fleet of 17 Chieftain Battle Tanks.

“This will help us to bring crime levels down, although even they may not be up to the task of patrolling the badlands of Haverhill.”

* * * * * *

Click here to support the Suffolk Gazette Beer Fund!
Olimometer 2.52

Join our witty Suffolk Gazette Facebook page community.


  1. Robin Archer

    October 16, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Isn’t this the same stupid paper that showed a picture of a huge Catfish and not only called it a Carp, but would have you and me believe it was caught in a river in Suffolk…….come on people it’s the press???

    • The Editor

      October 16, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      Dear Jeffrey Archer,

      Are you suggesting we are telling fibs to our readers? This is slanderous, we check every fact and every tiny detail before publication.

      The Editor

  2. Dave

    March 1, 2015 at 11:41 am

    At least it was only a Sidewinder which was let loose. If it’d been a Hellfire that’d have been much more serious!

    • Newtsald Forncett Major-Strappe

      March 4, 2015 at 12:40 am

      What ho Binky! Hun in the Sun, three o clock!
      Jolly glad jolly old flopter doing jolly well, what?
      Jolly well needs to circumnambulate Suffolk schools taking out a few jolly old head mistresses, what?

      • The Editor

        March 4, 2015 at 7:39 am


  3. Maggie jones

    March 1, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Our thoughts go out to Gladys and her family.

  4. Steve Cook

    March 1, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Always thought the crime editor was a bit sus.

  5. Akela Geronimo Spangles-Knacker

    March 1, 2015 at 2:09 am

    Should the Police now require the use of alternative heavy weaponry, we will of course place all of our resources at their disposal.

    These include stink bombs, catapults, smokepots, itching powder and our very recently restored ‘Stalins Piano’ – as well as a selection of heavy calibre SPG’s, MPG’s, AFG’s and PGTips.

  6. Rural Theologian

    February 28, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    As a former member of the Apache Tribe (I retired after taking 50 scalps) and UKIP (I retired are being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time with the Lady Mayor), I support the use of any sort of modern warfare to combat crime in our Vicarages.

    These notorious dens of iniquity are responsible for so much early rising on Sundays, out of tune singing by the three man choir (the 9 women don’t count) and worst of all, the abolishing (by default) of that Glorious, Patriotic founder of modern English, The Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible.

    Surely, what was good enough for Shakespeare (the epitome of an Englishman), that it should have been good enough for us – but these post-modern type in the church today have taken well meaning to the ultimate by making themselves seem to be ‘gentle folk’ when we all know that they are out and out revolutionaries – the reformations showed us that.

    They deserve all that they get, including women as priests and arch bishops even – that’ll show them :)

  7. Rev Andrew Dotchin

    February 28, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    I told them! I warned them! They should never have let the Vicar of Whitton be Padre to Ipswich Air Cadets and the Police at Landmark House at the same time. One small disagreement with the Archdeacon of Suffolk at a meeting of the Parochial Church Council and the next thing you know half of Ashfield-cum-Thorpe goes up in flames.

    Yours Sincerely Revd Andrew Dotchin (Vicar of Whitt…) I didn’t ought to have said that should i have?

    • Adrienne Wakeling

      March 3, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Dear Andrew
      I investigated this to see if the vicarage was next to a CCT church. and because I support Suffolk Constabulary and have been to wattisham a number of times in my previous life (no reincarnation implied)with the RBL.
      Hope all is going well over at Whitton and Akenham
      best wishes

  8. colin le bod

    February 28, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    The Apache in question is now grounded at RAF Packington

  9. eric

    February 28, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Not sure if the tank part is serious or not, does seem abit over the top

  10. Reg

    February 28, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Why can’ more news papers be this honest !

  11. Peter Hawkins

    February 28, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    I’m sure the writers of this report have torn an extra page off their callander by mistake – tomorrow is 1st March, not April Fools Day!

  12. F'tang Skidmark

    February 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    You can’t believe all you read in the Newspapers. The WI are of course an underground para military organisation and it is unfortunate that the team there that day had not reacted quickly enough to bring down the chopper. Had the Cubs and Scouts been involved it might have been a different story. More training needed before live fire operations I suggest.

  13. Stephen B

    February 28, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    This is nothing but a cover-up! The fault in the tracking system was caused by Divine Retribution because He is angry about the continued existence of Kim Kardashian

    • The Editor

      February 28, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      I think we’re all angry about the continued existence of Kim Kardashian

      • Gaz Hunter

        February 28, 2015 at 2:29 pm

        You cannot blame everything on the continuing existence of Kim Kardashian.

        But that is no excuse to stop trying…

        • Maggie jones

          March 1, 2015 at 8:40 am

          Come now, Don’t dis the Kim. That arse could be useful as an asteroid deflector.

  14. Hugh Jarrdon

    February 28, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I can’t believe how such a stupid thing could happen. Who in their right mind would take tea in the garden in February?

    • The Editor

      February 28, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      I asked The Rev Evan Elpus the same thing as I, too, thought it strange. But he said he used a patio heater.

      • Edna Bucket

        April 23, 2015 at 9:11 pm

        He used a patio heater for tea in the garden? Most people find a kettle to be much more convenient.

  15. Major Bob Hamilton-Smythe (ret)

    February 28, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    The quality of journalism of this so-called ‘paper’ is rapidly going downhill. It’s a well-known fact that a Sidewinder missile is an Air-to-Air weapon and so could not destroy a vicarage. It’s designed to take down aircraft, drones and low-flying Edwardian gazebos. To demolish a vicarage it would need to have been a Hellfire missile, designed in the 1980’s specifically to neutralise hostile Victorian vicarages. Do proper research before publishing such utter tosh, what!

    • Akela Geronimo Spangles-Knacker

      March 1, 2015 at 1:52 am

      As we in the Cubs, Scouts and Brownies know only too well – from our long, long, long experience of long, long, long sermons prior to ‘stand easy’ at Church Parade – the combination of Clergy and WI would indeed attract the attention of technology specifically designed to seek out Drones (and therefore droning).

      Perhaps the Suffolk Fuzz would accept a list of nominations for next Sunday?

  16. Bill

    February 28, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Perhaps, rather than moth balling it, they could use it to patrol the A14 and take out the lane hoggers in a spectacular way as a deterrent to others?

  17. Stephen Day

    February 28, 2015 at 10:49 am

    If the police don’t want the Apache any more, the Diocesan property department might be interested…

  18. Sandy Beech

    February 28, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Here in Blackpool we find the new tram system more than adequate for chasing criminals.

    • Ivana Pearl (nee-Klass)

      March 1, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Unfortunately there was a press blackout regarding the recent attempts by the Blackpool constabulary to utilise the Horesless Carriage in the apprehension of ne’er-do-wells.
      Rumour has it that such a commotion was caused whilst on a ‘high speed’ pursuit that a soufflé failed to rise in Freckleton, half the ducks left the pond in Little Eccleston and farmer Littljohn over in Salwick claims that it was in fact the very reason he fell to the hind quarters of that sheep.
      Understandable then that the police should wish emphasise their tram based success.

    • jack

      March 22, 2015 at 11:15 am

      No way!!! Your name is sandy beech! Seriously??!! Sandy beech WTF …

  19. Gaz Hunter

    February 28, 2015 at 7:37 am

    It’s rubbish stories like this that get science a bad name. In the same way wind farms don’t generate wind, solar panels don’t generate solar energy.

    The heat seeking rockets almost certainly just locked on to the heat of the vicar’s skunk factory and hydroponic heat lamps in the loft. This is why insulation is important.

  20. Ex tankie

    February 27, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    The residents of Haverhill have nothing to fear from the Chieftain tanks, the useless things were for ever breaking down…

  21. Count de wally de Honk

    February 26, 2015 at 6:11 am

    Tea party my left bum cheek – this vicar and his ladies have been distributing Meth to the now strung-out locals for years. The Police acted on a tip-off that Gladys Bad Boy Ohare was at the meeting and simply got over enthusiastic. I hope the tanks arrive soon as the lawlessness on a sunday afternoon at the car boot sale has to be seen to be believed.

  22. Peter Ian Staker

    February 25, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    I do hope this didn’t cause any alarm to the swan, earlier the helicopter shot the gate off the castle and it escaped!
    I phoned the police but I don’t think the Sergeant that came was that bothered..

  23. Hertful

    February 25, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Does Mr Passless really think the Chieftain tanks will supplement his Tactical Ordnance Support Helpers [TOSH],I know people on the Gainsborough estate in Ipswich who have already priced up what the tracks are worth scrap value,and the tanks are no way going to negotiate the potholes in our roads.

    • The Editor

      February 25, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      We contacted Mr Passless with your important points, but he said not to worry – the tanks would not dare go anywhere near Gainsborough Estate.

      • Hertful

        February 25, 2015 at 8:46 pm

        Not overly keen myself and I was born there.

  24. Sarsipius Dogslab

    February 25, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    I’m ten and what is this?

  25. Erik Shun

    February 25, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I have had a word with Evan over this awful situation. He and I agreed that we would pray together for those gullible and special souls who will believe anything they read on tinternet.

  26. Andy

    February 24, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    if you believe this story then you will believe anything, police pilots are generally ex military and there is no way or need the police would need or want one of these

  27. Not craig

    February 24, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    craig, you are a special kind of stupid, aren’t you. If you believe this then maybe it’s time to step away from the computer for a bit!!

    • Richard

      February 28, 2015 at 10:16 am

      Craig isn’t being stupid. NPAS, who provide helicopter support to police nationally, are closing a lot of their bases, meaning that Suffolk, Norfolk and a lot of the rest of the country won’t have air cover at all.

  28. craig

    February 24, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    We’ll people stop sharing this rubbish please!!!

    They were never considering the apache you idiots. In fact their scrapping the helicopter completely…

    Please don’t believe everything on the pathetic facebook

  29. Chris

    February 24, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    That’s what happens when you let an inexperienced pilot take out a multimillion £ helicopter! The U.S. Army has there pilots train for a few months with it before they allow them to fly in action. And what the hell are the police doing with military hardware?

    Oh and by the way, the systems on that AH-4 Apache was made in the 1980’s!

    • danny

      February 24, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      how could a civi on the ground watching a helicopter fly above a tree line possibly know it was ‘following a guy on a bicycle’. Goodness me

  30. Lord Hauler of Leigg

    February 24, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Poor Gladys, I do hope she recovers quickly. It is Petunia planting season approaching rapidly she won’t be able to look at 17th century terracotta pots again without flashbacks to such a terrible incident.

    • The Editor

      February 24, 2015 at 11:12 am

      Thank you for your kind words, your Lordship. It is humbling for us to think that Suffolk’s nobility reads our newspaper.

      We shall pass your comments on to Gladys, maybe accompanied by a bunch of flowers in a heavy pot?

      The Editor

      • Mr D Adams

        February 9, 2018 at 9:10 pm

        It should be noted however that the final thoughts of the bowl of petunias was ‘oh no not again’

  31. Andrew M. Ockenden

    February 23, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Friendly fire at home? Can you imagine what would happen if the Army decided to do a little ‘innocent’ target practise in the Wattisham area! Mayhem! So what the hell are the police doing with military helicopters equipped for war, and why are the police pilots receiving appropriate training with one of the Army Air Assault Brigades, who are eminently qualified for the tasks they are legitimately required to do? This police pilot needs a severe reprimand followed by a three year training stint (MINIMUM) with the British Army and required to pass all the relevant and appropriate standards requirements that Army pilots are required to achieve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Send this to a friend