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Inquest hears Debenham mum-of-three Julie Dibbs, 49, failed to stop at junction

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A mother-of-three and popular café owner suffered fatal injuries when she failed to stop at a road junction and drove into the path of a taxi and coach, an inquest has heard.

Julie Dibbs, 49, was at the wheel of a Honda Civic when the collision occurred on the A1120, at the junction with Thorpe Lane at Ashfield, on December 17 last year.

The inquest today, at Suffolk Coroners' Court, in Ipswich, was told Mrs Dibbs had been travelling from her home in Raedwald Way, Debenham, to collect an order of meat in Earl Soham.

mdep Julie Dibbs (18947406)
mdep Julie Dibbs (18947406)

Mrs Dibbs owned and ran the popular Deli Café at The Chilli Farm, by the A140, at Mendlesham.

Nigel Parsley, senior Suffolk coroner, said Mrs Dibbs' car was struck first by a taxi and then an empty coach returning from a school run, causing major damage to the Honda Civic.

In a statement, taxi driver Rebecca Waters said the Honda 'flew out' from Thorpe Lane at speed and she had been unable to avoid a collision.

Coach driver Alan Watts said he, too, had been unable to avoid striking Mrs Dibbs' Honda. He said: "It all happened so fast."

Mr Watts said in a statement read to the inquest that his windscreen had shattered and the coach, which had been travelling at about 50mph, ended up across a ditch in a field.

Since the accident he had trouble sleeping and suffered flashbacks, said Mr Watts.

The inquest heard two other motorists had seen the Honda emerge from Thorpe Lane followed by the impacts, with debris flying into the air.

Two former firefighters and a nurse who was passing the scene went to Mrs Dibbs car, but they were unable to help her as she appeared to be dead, said the coroner.

Paramedic Katherine Whiting declared Mrs Dibbs dead at the scene a short time later.

Police accident investigator Pc Jeff Cribb said Mrs Dibbs had known the road well. No defects were found with any of the three vehicles involved and the taxi and coach drivers could have done nothing to avoid an impact.

In his report, Pc Cribb said it was possible the low level of the sun may have caused dazzle to Mrs Dibbs.

A post-mortem examination concluded Mrs Dibbs died as a result of severe head injuries.

Coroner Mr Parsley, recording a conclusion of death due to a road traffic collision, said: "The reason Julie's vehicle did not stop cannot be ascertained on the available evidence."

After the hearing, Mrs Dibbs' husband Andrew paid tribute to his wife, saying: "We are left with a massive hole in our lives with Julie not being here."

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Mr Dibbs, who thanked everyone who had stopped to try to help at the scene of the accident, added: "She was fantastic and had a heart of gold."

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