By Rob Banks, Crime Editor
Suffolk Police’s controversial Apache gunship helicopter is patrolling the skies again after the force’s pilots completed a rigorous training regime.
The fearsome helicopter was mothballed earlier this year when confused police pilots accidentally blew up a vicarage in Needham Market.
They became baffled by the gunship’s hi-tech weaponry and navigation systems, and fired off a lethal Hellfire sidewinder missile by mistake, causing severe damage to the vicarage while the vicar Evan Elpuss was hosting members of the local Women’s Institute for afternoon tea.
Thankfully no one was seriously hurt in the incident, which occurred while the Apache was chasing down a bicycle thief, although WI treasurer Gladys Worthington-Smyth was injured by a flower pot.
Now Suffolk Police, under pressure to shave more than £125million from its budget, is bringing back the deadly chopper to become the most effective crime deterrent in the country.
A force spokesman pointed out that the gunship would also prove to be highly effective in combatting the waves of country bumpkin migrants trying to get into Suffolk from Norfolk every night.
A police insider said: “The Apache sends a very powerful message to the criminal fraternity, and this will be a great comfort to the law-abiding people of Suffolk.
“Apple scrumpers, speeding motorists, car-tax dodgers – they’ll all be fair game as we crackdown on crime.
“And now our pilots have completed the new training course, there is much less chance of them accidentally firing off a missile towards a primary school, or spraying the main shopping street in Woodbridge with machine gun fire.”
Meanwhile, The Rev Evan Elpuss has forgiven the police for blowing up his beloved Victorian vicarage.
“These things happen,” he said, while writing this Sunday’s sermon from his caravan.