Colchester: Firefighter Named At Inquest

21 June 2013, 15:04

A firefighter found dead at his home in Colchester after being spoken to by police investigating sex abuse allegations within a fire service has been named at an inquest.

The body of father-of-two Martin Sibley, 48, was discovered at his home in Keymer Way on Monday, the inquest opening in Chelmsford heard on Friday afternoon. 

A post-mortem examination, carried out at Colchester General Hospital, found the cause of death to be suspension. 

It emerged on Thursday that Essex County Fire and Rescue Service had alerted police after being told of sex abuse claims at fire stations in Essex believed to date back to the 1980s. 

Essex Police confirmed it had referred Mr Sibley's death, which is not being treated as suspicious, to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) because the man had recently been spoken to by officers. 

The IPCC has referred the matter back to Essex Police after concluding it was satisfied with the force's handling of the case. It is not known why Mr Sibley, who had worked for the fire service for more than 20 years, was interviewed. 

Police and the fire service have not commented on the exact nature of the inquiry but it is understood the allegations are of a sexual nature, possibly linked to initiation ceremonies. 

Confirming the investigation, a spokesman for the fire service said: "During an internal investigation, senior managers were made aware of allegations of potential criminal activity within the service. 

"These matters were alleged to have happened some time ago but, due to their serious nature and following clear legal advice, managers referred the matter to Essex Police. 

"Since then, the service has been co-operating fully with the police inquiry and has advised staff to do the same.'' 

It is understood that Mr Sibley began his career as a firefighter in Thurrock and moved to Colchester in 1991 where he had worked ever since. In 2009 he received a Long Service and Good Conduct medal after 20 years of service. 

A fire service spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with his family. "The service and his colleagues will provide all the support we can to help them through this difficult time. 

"This is a sad loss for his family and for the fire service and all his colleagues. 

"He dedicated his life to the community and will be missed.''