Clacton murder suspect Peter Reeve was seen shooting himself

 

The man believed to have murdered an off-duty policeman this week was seen shooting himself in a churchyard the following day, officials confirmed.

A huge police manhunt for Peter Reeve was launched after Pc Ian Dibell was shot dead in the seaside town of Clacton, Essex on Monday afternoon.

The next day, Reeve, 64, was seen shooting himself in a churchyard in Writtle, near Chelmsford, about 40 miles away from the murder scene, Essex Coroner's Office confirmed.

At an inquest at Chelmsford Coroner's Court, coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said: "On July 10 2012 he (Reeve) was seen alive in the churchyard in Writtle with a gun and was seen to shoot himself."

Pc Dibell, 41, was off duty when he intervened in a dispute between Trevor Marshall, Mr Marshall's girlfriend and Reeve in Redbridge Road, Clacton.

Pc Dibell was shot dead, while Mr Marshall, 48, escaped with leg injuries and his girlfriend survived unscathed.

Reeve disappeared after the shooting and police launched a manhunt that lasted almost 17 hours.

His body was discovered near the rural All Saints Church in Writtle on Tuesday morning. He had dumped his car near the murder scene the previous day.

Reeve, reported to be a retired bus mechanic who was largely unknown to the police and did not have a firearms licence, is understood to have had several family members living near the church where he was found and may have had a relative buried there.

At the inquest into the deaths of Pc Dibell and Reeve, the coroner said: "As the tragic events have unfolded this week in Essex, many people's lives have been affected.

"I'd like to express my thanks to Essex Police."

Mrs Beasley-Murray passed on her condolences to the families of Pc Dibell and Reeve.

She added: "The families can now return to their funeral arrangements and hopefully be left in peace to grieve for their loved ones."

Pc Dibell was today described as "a beacon" for all members of the Essex Police Authority.

In a statement, they said: "Pc Dibell was an extraordinary man and an exceptional police officer.

"Very experienced and respected by his colleagues, he thought nothing of going to the rescue of fellow citizens who were in mortal danger.

"He was off duty at the time. He is the finest example of the deep sense of loyalty and bravery in our officers, even when not on duty, to serve and protect the public.

"We furthermore recognise that this spirit is reflected in the actions of Essex Police officers across the county every day.

"We must be endlessly grateful for this.

"Our deepest heartfelt sympathies have been extended to his family at this most difficult of times.

"Pc Dibell, you have become a beacon for us all. We shall not forget you."

Detectives from Essex Police continue to conduct a live murder investigation into the events of Monday and Tuesday.

They will seek to establish a motive for the shootings and find out exactly the sequence of events.

The inquest was adjourned to an unspecified date.

PA

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