PC Ian Dibell shooting: Gunman told of 'terrible day'

Ivor Starling says Peter Reeve told him he had had "a terrible day"

A gunman suspected of killing a policeman told a pensioner just hours later he was having a "terrible, terrible, terrible day".

Off-duty PC Ian Dibell, 41, was shot dead in Clacton-on-Sea on 9 July.

Retired lorry driver Ivor Starling, 74, met suspected killer Peter Reeve just hours later and described him as "flushed red".

Mr Reeve, 64, of Fairlop Close in Clacton, was found dead in a churchyard in Writtle, Chelmsford, the next day.

It is thought PC Dibell was shot after intervening in a row in Redbridge Road, Clacton, in which a second man was also wounded.

Mr Starling, who comes from Weeley, described how Mr Reeve initially asked him about how to get a taxi in the village, which is about five miles (8km) from Clacton.

Peter Reeve Peter Reeve was found dead with a head wound

Mr Starling, who met Mr Reeve about two hours after PC Dibell was shot, said: "He was flushed red and wasn't comfortable within himself whatsoever.

"He said to me, 'I've had such a terrible, terrible, terrible day', he said 'I've had a terrible day and if I told you how terrible it is you could never believe me, and I need a taxi'.

Mr Starlng invited Mr Reeve into his home to use a telephone. The offer was declined.

Mr Starling suggested Mr Reeve save himself the expense of using a taxi and travel by train instead.

"He said, 'I could do with a pint and I will get on my way'," said Mr Starling.

Mr Starling told his wife about the encounter but only realised the man he had met was wanted by police for the killing of PC Dibell the following morning.

Mr Starling said: "The whole story is very, very sad for everybody. I feel very sorry for the policeman and family and I feel very sorry for the man who did it. I think he was very ill."

Inquests into the deaths of both PC Dibell and Mr Reeve have been opened and adjourned.

PC Ian Dibell It is thought PC Dibell had tried to intervene in a dispute when he was shot

A police investigation into the killing of PC Dibel - described as a "hero" by his family - is ongoing.

Police have established that Mr Reeve got on a train in Colchester at about 19:30 BST on 9 July bound for Chelmsford, where he tried to visit friends and family in the city.

It is not clear whether he succeeded in making contact with anybody, police say.

Mr Reeve was seen to shoot himself in the Writtle churchyard the following morning.

Part of the police investigation centres on how Mr Reeve got from the Clacton area to Colchester and from Chelmsford to Writtle.

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