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20 January 2013, 15:20
A police sergeant who worked alongside an officer who was attacked and killed in Stockport has paid tribute to a 'consummate professional'.
28-year-old Gareth Francis was walking home from a night out with friends when he was assaulted in Edgeley in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of his murder and remain in custody.
Sergeant Alex Cairns was Gareth's supervisor over the last four years.
Alex said: "Gareth's colleagues on 'A' relief are absolutely devastated by his death. It has hit them extremely hard and they are being offered all the support that we can right now.
"Most of his career Gareth worked on a close knit relief of between 10 and 14 officers, so you can imagine that, in teams of that size, the news has come as a personal blow to them.
"Gareth was the kind of officer who would quietly get on with his job with the minimum of supervision.
"In fact, he was pretty much a 'go to' kind of guy. If you needed something doing quietly and efficiently then he was your man. He would volunteer to stay late without any complaint and approached everything in work with an outstandingly positive attitude.
"All of his colleagues, without exception, felt a sense of relief when they knew Gareth would be attending a difficult or potentially dangerous incident with them.
"That was the esteem in which his fellow officers held him. He was always the consummate professional police officer.
"One measure of his professionalism came one day when a colleague approached me and said Gareth had broken his hand, but was determined to carry on working.
"I sent him to hospital of course, but had I not been told about his hand Gareth would not have mentioned it."