An off-duty policeman was recommended for a posthumous bravery award yesterday after he was killed trying to wrestle a revolver from a gunman.
PC Ian Dibell, 41, died from a single wound to his chest as he tried to intervene in a dispute near his home in Clacton, Essex, on July 9 last year, an inquest heard.
His killer, Peter Reeve, 64, who had a history of mental illness, had attacked two of his neighbours in the street after becoming obsessed with the idea that they were dealing drugs and printing money.
Reeve, who was in a car, fired on his two neighbours before killing PC Dibell at close range when the officer leaned into the Toyota to try to grab the First World War revolver, the inquest heard.
After shooting PC Dibell, Reeve chased and ran down one of the neighbours before smashing the car into the wall.
Reeve was found dead the following day after shooting himself through the head in a churchyard 40 miles away at Writtle, Essex. Reeve said that he was sorry for killing Mr Dibell, a father-of-two, in a letter to a friend before ending his own life.
Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray praised Mr Dibell for his “quite extraordinary bravery” in risking his own life to save others and recommended him for a bravery award. She told his family, including his partner Louise Lilley, that they could be extremely proud of him.
In a statement, the officer’s family said: “Today's inquest has left no shadow of a doubt that Ian acted selflessly and heroically to protect others. He placed himself in mortal danger and paid the ultimate price. It is with an immense sense of pride that we remember Ian and his courageous act.”
The coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing for Mr Dibell, and suicide for Reeve.