Police search Bucks home after man, 66, firebombs Dover migrant centre then kills himself

31 October 2022, 16:04 | Updated: 2 November 2022, 08:49

Fire breaks out at the Dover processing centre
Fire breaks out at the Dover processing centre. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Police investigating the attack on an immigration centre in Dover have begun searching a property in Buckinghamshire.

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A man was seen laughing before he he threw three petrol bombs at the Western Jet Foil migrant processing centre at the Port of Dover before taking his own life on Sunday.

Kent Police and Thames Valley Police have now carried out a warrant at a property in High Wycombe.

The suspect, who was found dead at a petrol station near the facility, is a 66-year-old man from Wycombe, which is more than 100 miles away.

A white man in a striped top drove up to the centre in a white SEAT sports utility vehicle before hurling the missiles.

Police said that the man got out of his car and threw three petrol bombs. Two people received minor injuries, officers said.

They said the incident is not being treated as terror-related.

The man was later found dead.

Police officers at the scene
Police officers at the scene. Picture: Alamy

An eyewitness said he saw the man laughing while he carried out the terrifying attack.

Gary Smith told The Sun: "I was walking over a nearby bridge and I could see him throwing the bombs. They were making loud bangs. I think he threw about four or five. 

"He was just laughing while he was doing it. It was crazy."

Another witness told Kent Online: "I heard what I thought was cannons going off and thought it must have been an event.

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"We paused the TV to hear. There were at least six or seven.

"To think it was actually explosions that we heard is just so upsetting. I really hope no one is hurt."

It is understood the man then drove off and killed himself. Kent Police said the suspect had been identified and located, confirming on Sunday evening at about 7pm that they had found him dead.

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Another eyewitness, Mark Williamson, 59, an international lorry driver from Leeds said he saw the suspect just after the attack.

"I was going to meet my mate for a coffee and I saw the fella in the white vehicle sort of hanging out the window," he told Mail Online.

"The next minute, armed response turned up. It was surreal."

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Police officers with the car allegedly used by the suspect
Police officers with the car allegedly used by the suspect. Picture: Alamy

About 700 migrants were moved from the Dover unit to the processing centre in Manston, in north-east Kent in the aftermath of the attack.

The motive for the attack remains unclear.

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A group of people thought to be migrants at the processing centre in Dover following the incident
A group of people thought to be migrants at the processing centre in Dover following the incident. Picture: Alamy
The fire brigade confirmed they extinguished a fire
The fire brigade confirmed they extinguished a fire. Picture: Alamy

Footage shared on social media shows a fire at the gates of the immigration centre.

Nathalie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover, told LBC the incident was "very shocking" but said tensions at the facility had been rising.

"This is a well-known facility, it's the place where boats, small boats, arrive before people are taken to nearby reception facilities at Manston," she said on Sunday.

"We don't know the motivation of the individual concerned yet so I wouldn't want to speculate on that, but I think it is fair to say that tensions have been running high over the last period and indeed I've raised my concerns about that with the immigration minister earlier this week."

She went on: "Last Sunday, just a week ago, we had an incident where two boats had arrived on the beach at Dover and the people who were in them... went into a nearby residential area [and] entered a house... tensions have been raised over the last week and yesterday we saw 990 arrivals."

She said the attack was "absolutely dreadful" and that people at the centre were being looked after.

Home secretary Suella Braverman called the attack "a distressing incident".

Ms Braverman came under fire after it was alleged she knowingly detained asylum seekers for longer than is legal.

The recently reinstated home secretary was told at least three weeks ago that migrants were being kept in overcrowded centres in Manston, in Kent, for unlawful lengths of time, the Sunday Times reported, citing five sources.

Migrants are not supposed to be kept in the processing centres for more than 24 hours under UK laws, while they undergo initial checks.

Some 2,600 migrants have been kept for more than four weeks in the centres - only designed to house 1,600.

Tory MP Natalie Elphicke says Dover attack wasn't expected but 'tensions have been raised'

Bomb disposal teams are at the scene
Bomb disposal teams are at the scene. Picture: Alamy
The car allegedly involved in the incident
The car allegedly involved in the incident. Picture: Alamy
An aerial view of the emergency service presence
An aerial view of the emergency service presence. Picture: Alamy

It comes after nearly 1,000 migrants crossed the English Channel and arrived in Dover on Saturday.

Huge lines of people, thought to be migrants, could be seen waiting to be processed at the Border Force compound in Dover, Kent, as a total of 990 arrived.

Processing continued on Sunday before the attack happened.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.