Off-duty officer killed after ‘single punch’ in Manchester street brawl – murder suspects remain in police custody

By Dean Wilkins

An off-duty policeman was killed by a single punch during a street brawl in Manchester on Sunday.

PC Gareth Francis suffered serious head injuries after being attacked following a night out in Manchester city centre with friends – it is believed he hit his head on the ground.

Detectives have been given more time to quiz two suspects, aged 20 and 21, arrested on suspicion of murder following the attack on Castle Street, Edgeley, at around 1.20am – a third man who handed himself in was released on bail until January 28 pending further investigations.

The 28-year-old officer had been watching Manchester City’s tie with Fulham the previous day before he tragically lost his life.

Sergeant Alex Cairns was PC Francis’ immediate supervisor over the last four years, the young officer had joined Greater Manchester Police in 2007 and was tutored in a neighbourhood team on the South Manchester Division.

Sergeant Cairns paid tribute to his colleague: “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.

Detectives now want to hear from witnesses.

A post mortem examination concluded Gareth died from a head injury following a single punch.

Anyone with information is asked to call GMP’s Major Incident Team on 0161 856 9283 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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