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EDITIONS
 Saturday, 25 January, 2003, 18:39 GMT
Guard of honour for stabbed policeman
Mr Oake's family follow his coffin into church
The coffin was carried past an honour guard
Hundreds of mourners have attended the funeral at Manchester Cathedral of Detective Constable Stephen Oake, the special branch officer killed during a counter-terrorism raid in the city.

Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, were among about 1,000 people at the service in memory of the father of three, who was stabbed to death as he searched a flat in Crumpsall on 14 January.

Mr Oake was granted a full police funeral and his wife, Lesley, and their children led mourners at the service.

Police guard of honour
Police officers form a guard of honour for Mr Oake's funeral

The cortege was escorted through the city centre by mounted police wearing full ceremonial dress.

A tribute website set up by the 40-year-old's colleagues in Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has posted more than 2,000 messages of condolence to his family.

They have come from schoolchildren, former and serving police officers and ordinary people in countries as far afield as Australia and the United States.

Coping

After arriving at the cathedral Mr Oake's coffin - draped in a black GMP flag - was carried by six former colleagues through the guard of honour outside the cathedral's south porch.

Stephen Oake
The gratitude and respect felt for a brave officer who died trying to protect his city from terrorism was written on every face

David Green
BBC News Online

The service was led by the Reverend Rob White, of Poynton Baptist Church in Cheshire, where Mr Oake and his family worshipped.

Special arrangements were made to relay the sermon to crowds outside the cathedral.

Greater Manchester's Chief Constable Michael Todd paid tribute to Mr Oake's "integrity, his enthusiasm and his sense of humour".

He described him as a "first class officer", a "real thief taker" and "completely dedicated and professional".

"Put simply, he was a superb, professional police officer, a marvellous fun person and one of the really good guys," said Mr Todd.

Rev White told the BBC he admired the way Mr Oake's family were coping with their loss.

Man charged

He said: "Obviously there's been many tears, much lying awake at night, much grieving, much sitting and just feeling heartbroken, devastated and alone.

"But I think they've coped remarkably well."

In an interview with the Police Review magazine, Mr Todd said the stabbing to death of one of his officers had been the "worst time" of his career.

Police officer cries
Many officers were visibly emotional
"It has been a traumatic week and has affected us all very deeply. It is such a shock.

"The circumstances of Steve's death have been devastating."

Describing him as "one of the good guys", Mr Todd also paid tribute to Mr Oake's bravery.

He said: "When the truth comes out, we will see what a hero Steve was that night."

Kamel Bourgass, 27, has been charged with Mr Oake's murder and the attempted murder of four other officers.

He is due to appear at the Old Bailey on 27 January.

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  The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"Stephen Oake's coffin was brought to Manchester Cathedral with full honours"

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