Manchester

Off-duty Greater Manchester police officer murdered

An off-duty police officer has died after being assaulted in Greater Manchester.

PC Gareth Francis, 28, was walking home from a night out with friends on Castle Street, Edgeley, Stockport, at 01:20 GMT, when he was attacked, police said.

He was taken to Stepping Hill Hospital with a head injury and died later.

Two men, aged 20 and 21, from Stockport, have been been arrested on suspicion of his murder and remain in custody for questioning.

Image caption PC Francis was assaulted minutes after getting out of a taxi

'Terrible blow'

Detectives said he was dropped off by a taxi in Edgeley after a night out with friends in Manchester city centre and assaulted minutes later.

Ch Supt Chris Sykes said PC Francis joined Greater Manchester Police force in 2007 and was serving at West Didsbury Police Station.

He added: "Gareth was a dedicated police officer with six years' experience and he will be greatly missed by his colleagues.

"However, the loss will be even greater for Gareth's family and I would like to reassure them that we have a team of detectives working round-the-clock now to establish exactly what happened this morning.

"Gareth's colleagues on the South Manchester Division have been dealt a terrible blow by today's news and and welfare is being provided to any members of staff affected by this tragedy."

His family paid tribute to "a gorgeous son" who brought "love and laughter" to their lives, the force added.

A post-mortem examination will take place later to establish the cause of death.

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