Date: 27 Jul 2001
Place: Leigh, Chard, Somerset
Andrew Chubb was killed in an explosion in his garden shed. His death was determined to be unascertained.
The verdict at his first inquest ruled that his death had been accidental. However, a second inquest was carried out in 2007 and his death was determined to have been unascertained, overturning the verdict of accidental death.
He died shortly after he asked his wife for a divorce. He had been having an affair with a 37-year-old woman in Portsmouth where he worked as a judge and would go home to his wife at the weekends to their house near Ford Abbey in Somerset. He had told her about his affair after a woman called his house in Leigh and asked for him but had hung up when she had asked who was speaking. However, it was said that he had told his wife that he was planning to end the affairs and had no intention of leaving her.
On the day he died he had got home at 7.30pm and asked his wife for a divorce and then gone out into the garden shed in his gardening clothes. His wife said that she saw him soon after in the garden shed standing over a motorised lawnmower after which she said that she went back into the house. She said that she then heard an explosion at 8.50pm.
The garden shed had contained a sit-on lawnmower and also petrol and fuel for a strimmer.
It was said that the fire that he died in was caused or accelerated by the ignition of petrol vapour.
It was suggested that a spark from the lawnmower had ignited the petrol and caused an explosion and a fireball.
It was said that it was a mystery why he had shut the shed door and not tried to escape.
A fireman that was called out to the fire said that when he found Andrew Chubb's body, the fire did seem suspicious but that his inspections showed no obvious signs of foul play. When asked about loud bangs that a neighbour had heard he said that they were probably caused by the asbestos in the shed as it burned.
Andrew Chubb didn't smoke or carry matches, and no one heard him try to start the lawnmower. It was noted that the shed didn't have any electricity or gas supply either.
His wife, who inherited his estate worth £1,000,000 moved to Australia after his death and it was said that a 'lingering cloud of suspicion' hung over her. However, judges at a high court said that there was not a shred of evidence to support a verdict of unlawful killing and a Lord Chief Justice said that it was possible that Andrew Chubb had killed himself.
A judge said that it would have been virtually impossible for his wife to have disabled Andrew Chubb in the shed and set him on fire.
His wife said that his mistress had been blackmailing him.
His mistress at the second inquest said that Andrew Chubb's death was not an accident. She said, 'I do not believe Andrew died accidentally or by his own hand.'.
Andrew Chubb's wife was arrested and questioned over Andrew Chubb's death in May 2002 but in September 2002 they said that they would not be charging her in connection with his death.
A pathologist who examined the original post-mortem at the 2007 inquest said that its results were insufficient, confusing and didn't make sense. He said that from the evidence in the findings it would have been impossible to conclude that Andrew Chubb had burned to death.
A friend of Andrew Chubb said that Andrew Chubb had disapproved of suicide so much so that he had not gone to the funeral of a friend that had killed himself.
Andrew Chubb had been in the navy for 20 years and before being appointed a judge on the western circuit he had been a barrister.
He had been married for 34 years.