The policeman who brought Brighton bomber to justice

Jack Reece


It is with much regret & sadness to announce that Jack Reece QPM died peacefully on 2nd November 2015 . 
Jack was our Clubs President up until March this year, after which he was awarded the title of “President Emeritus” by the Committee. 

Jack was an amazing man who from a very early age enjoyed Sea Angling, going onto fishing all over the world making many friends in the process. It was his Life’s passion & anyone who knew Jack would have heard one of his many tales of his Angling Adventures.

When Jack wasn’t fishing he worked as a Policeman in Hastings making sure everything was in order , looking after the community by catching scallywags & rogues. Jack went on to become Chief Detective Superintendant of Sussex Police, leading the team to the bombers who attacked the Government at Grand Hotel in Brighton in the early 1980s 
Jack described his police work as a little bit like fishing , ” you get the right bait you catch the fish, the bigger the bait the bigger the fish”. 
Our thoughts are with his wife Daphne. 

Jacks funeral will take place on Wednesday 25th November at 2pm at Hastings Crematorium with the Wake at EHSAA afterwards.

The East Hastings Sea Angling Association

Old Police Cells Museum

Ian Collington and I interviewed Jack in 2013 about his role in the apprehension of Patrick Magee and it was clear to us that he still felt very deeply for the plight of the victims and their loved ones.

When we met Jack he said, ‘You’re asking me questions about something I’ve been trying 30 years to forget.’ We were a little bemused, after all this investigation must have been the highlight of his career. His team had solved the case and the murderer was successfully prosecuted.

‘I’ll never forget finding the bodies, and talking to the relatives. I don’t know how they cope after something like this. You get very close to the relatives. I don’t think it helps them to have the whole thing continually raked over.’

For Jack this wasn’t the horrendous event that reverberated around the world changing policing and the way we view public events in ways unimaginable at the time. It was a tragedy that devastated the lives of the victims and their families from which some would never fully recover. Many are still living with the horror of that night, their lives changed forever.

Mention the Grand Bombing and it’s those people Jack thinks of.

A great joy and privilege to have sat in his lovely garden and been able to record the thoughts of a very human, human being.


The detective who brought The Grand bomber Patrick Magee to justice 

Jack Reece, who lived in Hastings was in charge of Brighton’s CID department at the time of the terror attack, uncovered crucial evidence which led to the IRA bomber being jailed for murder.

He died aged 86 on November 2 at Hastings Court care home, on The Ridge, after suffering from dementia.

His family moved to Hastings and Jack joined the Hastings Borough Police Force in March 1951. 

He served on uniform patrol, traffic patrol and CID. He then was posted to serve in the discipline and complaints department at the force’s headquarters in Lewes.

Jack was seconded to the Regional Crime Squad (Number 6 Region) as a coordinator and took part in Operation Countryman, an investigation into police corruption in London in the late 1970s.

He was involved in a number of high profile cases but his biggest came after Magee planted a bomb in The Grand at the time of the Conservative party conference, killing five.

With the bodies still being pulled from the building, Jack was sent in to gather evidence and find out who was responsible.

He went through hundreds of registration cards from the hotel and he scoured the area for clues.

Being a fisherman he knew the tide times, he ordered that plant pots which had been blown from outside the hotel be taken away and searched, saving crucial evidence.

Using state-of-the-art forensic techniques his team managed to find Magee’s prints on one of the booking cards, linking the known Irish republican to the bombing.

Magee was later arrested, put on trail and given eight life sentences. Jack was handed the Queen’s Police Medal for his involvement.

Jack was married to his wife Daphne for 63 years.

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