Tributes flood in for 'Johnny Rab'

Johnny Rab

Tributes have been paid to a former chief inspector of Brighton police.

John Rabson, 79, who was head of Brighton CID, passed away just before Christmas.

Chief Insp Rabson was described as a “dedicated officer who dedicated his life to the job”.

He was due to become a great-grandfather for the third time in February.

He was a well respected detective – working on high profile cases including the Babes in the Woods murders.

He moved to Brighton and became a police constable in the 1960s – when Brighton’s officers still wore white helmets – after serving in the Royal Navy in Malta.

His former wife Sheila Conner remembers when they first moved to Brighton to a flat above a bakery in Lewes Road and on his first day as a policeman he put on his uniform and said “I can’t go out looking like this – everyone will laugh at me”.

They later moved to police flats in Thompson Road, Hollingdean and then Jevington Drive in the city.

“He will be very sadly missed by everyone including his sister Margaret,” she added.

Mr Rabson had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and dementia and was living at Dean Woods nursing home in Woodingdean prior to his sudden death on December 23.

In a statement his family said: “He was a very well known police officer in Brighton.

“I’m sure lots of people would remember him.

“He was a dedicated police officer but would come home with awful stories about the things he had seen. It takes a special kind of person to be able to deal with the things he did.

“He dedicated his life to the job.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said Mr Rabson is still fondly remembered as ‘Johnny Rab’ as he was known.

He said Mr Rabson joined Brighton Borough Police on September 25, 1959 before Sussex Police was formed in 1968.

He was a PC in Rottingdean before transferring to CID and later retiring in the rank of Detective Chief Inspector.

David Rowland remembers John

‘In the 1960’s we both lived in the Police Flats in Thompson Road, Hollingdean. His daughter, Jane was the same age as my eldest son, Ian. We lived in the flat above him and used to have a coffee  while the kids, in their nappies, played together.’ 

‘We also studied together and John passed his exams and ended up becoming a chief Inspector. I didn’t!’ 

‘He was a very good cricketer and played for Sussex Police.’ 

‘I went to see him several times when he was in the Gracie Fields Home, but I am not sure he knew me, certainly not before he moved to Woodingdean.’ 

The good thing about John, he never changed his attitude to people like me when he became a senior officer.

I first met John’s first wife, Sheila, during the early 1960’s when they
moved to Thompson Road. He joined the police about a year after me. They were a
lovely couple who moved in with their Two children, Steven and Jane. A few
months later I moved out as I had been allocated a Police house in Woodingdean.

After I had left the police I moved to Telscombe Cliffs and met John
who introduced me to his second wife, Jill and I immediately took to her. She is
a lovely gentle lady who did everything for John. I think it’s right to say they
adored each other. They went everywhere with each other.

John’s Funeral

John Rabson’s funeral took place on Thursday 15th January 2015 at 12 midday at
the Down’s Crematorium, Bear Road, Brighton.
As the funeral started The Downs was full up with another 30 – 40 people
standing up at the back. This was a reflexion on John’s popularity when he was
The service was not a religious one and in place of hymns, the music was John’s
personal favourites.

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