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Support 'overwhelms' Pc's family

The family of a police officer shot dead as he went to protect a member of the public have thanked the nation for its support.

Speaking after a memorial service to Pc Ian Dibell in Clacton, his girlfriend Louise Lilley, herself a police community support officer, said she had received message of condolence and support from people across the community.

Essex Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle revealed relatives of Pc David Rathband, blinded by Raoul Moat and found dead at his home earlier this year, and Pc John Henry, stabbed in Luton in 2007, had also sent cards of condolence.

Nicole Dibell, Pc Dibell's sister-in-law, said outside the service: "We would like to thank Essex Police and the wider policing family for their help through this devastating time and for making Ian's memory and send off a fitting tribute to the hero he was."

Miss Lilley said: "I wish to thank everybody around the nation and in my own local community for the messages of condolence and support I have received. I have been truly overwhelmed by the kindness of so many. I'm not sure if I will ever be able to fully understand why the events of July 9 happened, but I am aware that Ian was a true hero."

Home Secretary Theresa May, dressed in black, joined police officers of all ranks as they paid tribute to Pc Dibell.

Hundreds of people packed St James Church in Clacton-on-Sea to remember the 41-year-old father-of-two, who was killed near his home in the Essex seaside town while he was off duty on July 9. Officers from Essex Police held a guard of honour at the entrance to the church.

A message of condolence from the Prince of Wales was read to the congregation. In his tribute, Charles said Pc Dibell's death served as a reminder of the sacrifices officers make and the dangers they face.

He added that he learned of the death with "the heaviest of hearts". He wrote: "This serves as a reminder that a police officer is never off duty."

It is thought Pc Dibell was going to the aid of Trevor Marshall, 48, who was injured in the gun attack. His suspected killer, Peter Reeve, 64, shot himself dead in a churchyard in Writtle, near Chelmsford, the following day.

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