POLICE CORNER ‘BUCKET BOMBER’
Was teenager sheltered in Surrey by unsuspecting carer honoured by the Queen?
A TEENAGER arrested over the Parsons Green terror attack may have been an asylum seeker who was given a home by a foster couple, it emerged last night.
Police raided the couple’s lilacpainted house in Surrey just hours after dramatically ambushing the 18- year- old bombing suspect in Dover as he tried to leave the country early yesterday.
Penny Jones, 71, and her husband Ron, 8 8 , have been honoured by t he Queen after taking in hundreds of refugees, including some from Syria.
Last night, as 250 residents living near the Jones’s house in Sunbury-on-Thames were evacuated, there were unconfirmed reports that explosives were found during the raid.
Neighbour Serena Barber, 47, who has known Mr and Mrs Jones all her life, said last night: ‘All I know is that they have two boys at the moment. Both are foreign.’
She alleged that one of the pair was ‘arrested at Parsons Green’ two weeks ago. Scotland Yard declined to comment on the claim.
Earlier yesterday, around seven armed officers surrounded the bombing suspect in the ticket office at Dover’s ferry terminal as he attempted to catch a boat to France. Sources told The Mail on Sunday that police lay in wait at the port for his arrival, suggesting his movements were being monitored by security services.
It is understood he was identified following an exhaustive examination by hundreds of detectives of CCTV footage. This prompted a tense surveillance operation involving MI5 and several police forces which ended dramatically with the Dover sting.
A witness who works in the ferry terminal said the suspect was surrounded by police officers as he tried to buy a ticket at 7.50am.
‘It was difficult to see him or what he looked like because the police moved towards him so quickly,’ she said. ‘ He was led away and there was no shouting and no sign of a struggle.’
After being held for several hours under the Terrorism Act, he was later moved to a South London police station where he will be questioned over Friday’s attack on a packed morning rush hour-train in West London.
Hundreds of commuters and schoolchildren narrowly avoided death when a bomb in a bucket hidden in a shopping bag failed to fully detonate. About 30 people were rushed to hospital, some with serious burns.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who chaired a meeting of the Government’s COBRA emergency committee yesterday, described the arrest as ‘ very significant’ but said the operation was still ongoing.
However, she said it was ‘much too early’ to tell if authorities knew the suspect in the bombing.
The fast-moving developments came as:
Police intensified the hunt for possible accomplices amid fears of a second terror strike;
The family of a 13- year- old schoolboy trampled in the stampede at t he station following Friday’s attack spoke of his terrifying ordeal;
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick vowed: ‘London has not stopped after other terrible attacks and it will not stop after this one.’
Armed pol ic e a nd mili ta r y personnel were deployed across the capital as the terror threat remained at critical.
The 18-year-old was detained on suspicion of preparing a terrorist act, sparking an evacuation of the ferry terminal, Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said.
Detectives i nvestigating t he bombing were said to be ‘keeping an open mind’ about whether more plotters were involved, and Mr Basu said the terror threat would remain at its highest level, indicat-
‘He was surrounded as he tried to buy a ticket’
ing another attack was feared. Just hours after the arrest in Dover, a huge squad of counter-terror police descended on the Jones’s home in Cavendish Road, Sunbury.
The couple have spent decades taking i n vulnerable children, including refugees. They were made MBEs in 2010.
Heavily armed counter-terrorist officers, carrying semi-automatic rifles and protected by shields, were seen waiting on nearby street corners. Scotland Yard put up a 100-yard cordon in the streets surrounding Cavendish Road, with two officers guarding each entrance to the leafy street.
They even applied to the Civil Aviation Authority for a no-fly zone to stop drones and TV news helicopters flying overhead.
As uniformed and plain-clothes officers swooped on the street, they ordered terrified residents to evacuate their homes immediately for fear that there could be a bomb factory in the property being raided.
Locals were taken by police minibus to wait at nearby Staines Rugby Club but many gathered at the edge of the cordoned-off zone to take photographs of the scene.
Lee Ryder, 43, was sleeping in his front room when armed police banged on his door and ordered him to evacuate the street at 1.40pm yesterday.
He said: ‘It was like something out of a movie. One minute I was dozing off and the next all these police appeared on the street and sprang into action. It’s terrifying that this quiet part of Surrey could have anything to do with what happened in Parsons Green.’
His partner Nicola, 43, returned home laden with shopping bags to find her whole street in lockdown.
One distressed woman complained that her housebound husband was still in t heir home. Another asked one of the Surrey Police officers to feed her cat.
Council worker Natalie Jones said she was told by police that ‘explosive devices’ had been found.
Another nei ghbour, Mojgan
‘It was terrifying, like something from a film’
Jamali, said: ‘I was in my house with my children and there was a knock at the door from the police.
‘They told me to leave. They said, “You have one minute to get out of the house and get away.”
‘I just got out. I got my three children and we left the house and the street. We didn’t know what was going on.’
The focus of the police activity, however, was the home of Penny and Ron Jones.
The couple were awarded MBEs by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2010 for services to children and families. They said in a recent interview they had fostered 268 children since 1970.
Mrs Jones has told how they made a conscious decision to just take in young refugees and have looked after at least eight. She told a local community website it was a ‘ lot easier’ to care for youngsters classed as unaccompanied asylumseeking children from war- torn countries including Iraq, Eritrea, Syria, Albania and Afghanistan. Mrs Jones told the website: ‘You have to have patience too and remember they’ve been through a lot – they’re doing their best but nothing is going to happen overnight. But it’s so rewarding.
‘ They’re grateful to be safe, to have a bed to sleep in and to have food and [our support]… that’s all they need.’
Mrs Jones told how they once looked after a 15- year-old who had smuggled himself into the UK on a lorry from Calais, and how on another occasion she cooked halal chicken for their refugee guest for Christmas dinner.
‘We put decorations up to celebrate and he was fascinated with them. We sat as a family… and he was so grateful for the gift of just being together… in a place he could call home. He was happy.’
A neighbour described Mrs Jones as a ‘woman with a big heart’.
The latest developments came as Security Minister Ben Wallace said that companies such as Google, Facebook and YouTube ‘can do more to tack le extremism’. Mr Wa l - lace said that concerns had been reignited after the UK was targeted for a fifth time this year, and promised to put pressure on companies to invest in technology that could identify and remove terrorism-related material more quickly. Security sources said that the bomb, which failed fully to ignite, contained similar explosives to those used in the Manchester Arena attack and London bombings in 2005. The device, packed with fairy lights and covered by a Lidl bag, had a timer that enabled the attacker t o slip off t he t rain before i t was due to explode. Witnesses described a fireball in the carriage. Most of the victims suffered flash burns, but some were hurt in the stampede out of the station. On Friday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bomb and said others had been planted.
‘You have one minute to get out of the house’
SEARCH: An officer enters the house in Sunbury yesterday. Inset: Owner Penny Jones
ALERT: A heavily armed officer on patrol in London yesterday as the terror threat level was raised to critical BOY: I WAS BURIED UNDER BODIES
LOOKING FOR CLUES: Police search bins in Dover yesterday and the ferry terminal, above