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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 19:00 GMT
Judge 'died in garage explosion'
The inquest is being held in Wells
A judge who died in an explosion at his home had asked his wife for a divorce that day, an inquest heard.

Andrew Chubb, 58, died on 27 July when the wooden garage he was inside exploded at his home in Leigh, near Chard.

His wife Jennifer watched as the outbuilding was destroyed by the blast.

Coroner Tony Williams recorded a verdict of accidental death after rejecting suicide or unlawful killing.

He said: "I am satisfied on the independent evidence, on the balance of probability, it is the appropriate verdict, one of accidental death."

On the day of his death, Mr Chubb told his wife he wanted a divorce, and then went outside to the garage, where lawnmowers and petrol were stored.

He had a deep sense of doing the right thing

Iain Leadbetter
Mr Chubb, who served in the Royal Navy for 20 years, was a barrister before being appointed a judge on the western circuit.

He also appeared as a junior counsel for the prosecution in the trial of Gloucester serial killer Rosemary West, wife of Fred West.

Mr Chubb told his wife about the affair after she received a phone call from a young woman asking for her husband, who had hung up when she asked who was calling.

The next morning she said the judge told her he had been having an affair, but that he was trying to end it and was not planning to leave her.

Divorce plans

The couple had been married for 34 years.

The inquest at Wells Town Hall heard Mrs Chubb had gone to the garage to talk to him about his divorce announcement, but she could get no reply from him.

She had returned to the house and had been about to eat when, through the window, she saw the garage explode.

The inquest heard that several mowers had been kept in the garage, a small one and a sit-on Honda mower which had recently been repaired, as well as petrol for the mowers and separate fuel for a strimmer.

Mower evidence

The inquest was told that neither Mrs Chubb nor her husband ever considered the garage a fire hazard, and Mrs Chubb had "no idea" what caused the explosion.

She also said she did not believe her husband would commit suicide.

In a statement, Mr Chubb's closest friend, Iain Leadbetter, said the judge had a "deep sense of doing the right thing".

He said he disapproved of suicide to the extent of not going to a church service for a mutual friend who had taken their own life.

He added he knew the judge was having a relationship with another woman, and said this was not something he would have entered into lightly.

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