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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 13:34 GMT
Ex-police chief dies in blaze
William Farley and his wife Marjorie
The couple were described as "devoted"
A former chief constable of Gwent and his wife have died in a fire at their house in Abergavenny, south Wales.

William Farley, 87, retired in 1981 after 17 years as head of the force.

He and his wife Marjorie, 86, had been married for 62 years and leave a son, daughter, four grandchildren and a great-grandson. Police and fire officers believe the blaze was a "tragic accident".

Fire engines were called to the scene in Avenue Road at 2310 GMT on Thursday

The building was badly damaged by fire and an investigation is under way at the scene, although officers investigating the blaze said they believed it was accidental.

The Gwent force and South Wales Fire Service have launched a joint investigation.

Troop commander

Gwent Chief Constable Keith Turner paid tribute to the former police chief. He said Mr Farley was "universally admired and respected."

"In many ways it was the leadership provided by Mr Farley that the force has built upon in occupying the high position it does today."

He paid tribute to the "support and energy" shown by Mrs Farley.

Sunderland-born Mr Farley was modest about his war record, say police.

The  house where the couple died
Police believe the fire at the house was a "tragic accident"

He was a troop commander in Normandy and received the Military Cross after his tank was hit in Germany in 1945. He had joined the police in Durham in 1935, arriving in Monmouthshire in 1958.

Mr Farley became chief constable in 1964, overseeing the merger with the old Newport constabulary, and remained head of the Gwent force until 1981.

Later he was a deputy lieutenant for Gwent and a well-known charity worker for which he was awarded the OBE .

Mrs Farley was a well-known golfer and Gwent county ladies' champion.

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