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Clacton: Off-duty officer Pc Ian Dibell described as ‘amazing’ and a ‘true hero’

PUBLISHED: 17:01 11 July 2012

Pc Ian Dibell

Pc Ian Dibell

A POLICE officer who was shot dead trying to stop a crazed gunman has been praised by the family of the man he was protecting.

Painful memories

THE tragic death of police constable Ian Dibell has raked up painful memories of another Essex officer to be killed in Tendring.

Brian “Bill” Bishop was shot in the head by an armed robber in Central Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea. He died in hospital five days later on August 27, 1984.

Acting police sergeant Bishop was among police keeping watch of a site where an armed robber had hidden cash from post office raids in Walton and Frinton.

The robber approached the scene with what appeared to be a carrier bag.

Pc Bishop shouted “Armed police, stop!” before the robber lifted the plastic bag – which had been concealing a gun – and shot him in the head.

The robber denied Pc Bishop’s murder – and the attempted murder of Sergeant Fairweather – when he appeared at Norwich Crown Court.

The jury found him guilty of Pc Bishop’s murder but acquitted him of the attempted murder of Sgt Fairweather. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Two years after Pc Bishop’s death, Douglas Herd, the then Home Secretary, unveiled a granite memorial stone near to where Pc Bishop was shot.

It was funded by the Police Memorial Trust, set up in 1984 following the death of Pc Yvonne Fletcher in St James Square in London.

Pc Ian Dibell, 41, was killed when he tried to prevent Peter Reeve chasing a neighbour down a street in Clacton.

The neighbour, 48-year-old Trevor Marshall, is recovering after being shot in the leg but Pc Dibell, who was off-duty at the time, died at the scene.

Last night, Mr Marshall’s 22-year-old step-son Liam Hampton thanked the officer and praised him for saving his step-father’s life.

“What that policeman did was amazing. He was off-duty but he still tried to stop what was happening,” he said.

“There could easily have been two deaths but because of what he did my step-dad’s still alive. I can’t thank him enough and I offer my deepest sympathy to his family.”

The drama unfolded on Monday when armed police were called to Redbridge Road at 3.40pm.

A full-scale manhunt for Reeve, 64, ensued before he was found dead with head wounds and a gun at All Saints’ graveyard in Writtle near Chelmsford, yesterday morning.

In a statement, Pc Dibell’s family, a number of whom are police officers, paid tribute to their selfless “hero”.

They said: “We are immensely proud of Ian and the courage he showed. We take some comfort from his bravery. Policing was in his blood and Ian went selflessly to the aid of people in desperate need without fear or thought for his own safety. It was who he was – a hero.

“He has paid for the act in the most devastating way. He will be deeply missed and no words can describe the loss. He was very much loved by his family.”

According to neighbours, Reeve is thought to have become suspicious and paranoid about the couple living in the flat downstairs, claiming they were printing money.

However, it is not known what prompted such a volatile and deadly set of events, with some neighbours claiming it may have been over a parking dispute.

Police said much of the murder investigation will focus on the motive behind the tragic shooting.

Essex Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said: “It is an extreme set of circumstances that a man opens fire with a gun clearly firing at more than one person and shooting an off-duty constable dead.

“There must have been some sort of catalyst that prompted the scale of a tragedy of this kind.” Reeve, who was largely unknown to the police, did not carry a firearms licence and his car was found abandoned near the scene of the crime. It is not known how he got to Chelmsford.

He is understood to have family members in Writtle, who police officers were visiting yesterday, and had a connection with the graveyard where he was found.

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