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Antiques gun dealer Ray Mills of Pinnocks Avenue, Gravesend, found dead before he was due to stand trial for owning banned guns

An antiques gun dealer shot himself over fears he could die in prison after he was charged with owning banned firearms, an inquest heard.

Ray Mills, of Pinnocks Avenue, Gravesend, took his own life in woodland off Cobhambury Road, Cobham, before he was about to go on one last shoot. He was 68.

He was described as “anxious” and “depressed” in the days leading up to his death over fears he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Mr Mills took his own life in woodlands off Cobhambury Road
Mr Mills took his own life in woodlands off Cobhambury Road

Mr Mills was due to stand trial for illegal gun possession after he was charged by Met Police under Operation Trident, a unit targeting London gun crime.

He even spent several days in Belmarsh jail before he was released on bail after £20,000 was secured for him.

He phoned friend Ian Bovington, who he met through membership at Reeves Gun Club, to join him on a Saturday morning shoot in woods he owned in Cobham.

As the pair loaded their guns, Mr Bovington heard a loud bang, which at first he thought was Mr Mills shooting a pigeon.

When he turned, he saw his friend lying on the ground motionless. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The inquest, held today at Gravesend's Old Town Hall, heard his wife Ann feared the worst when police officers attended her home to deliver the news hours after his death.

Gravesend Old Town Hall, High Street.
Gravesend Old Town Hall, High Street.

In a written statement, she said: “He said to me he worried about dying in prison, he did not know if he could cope.

“I said to him if he got 10 years he would only probably serve five.”

A post mortem concluded Mr Mills died of a head injury.

Investigating officer DS Richard Allingham said he was satisfied Mr Mills intended to take his own life after ruling out third-party involvement.

Coroner Alan Blunsdon recorded the death as suicide.

Anyone feeling desperate or suicidal can call Samaritans in confidence on 0845 790 9090.

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