CROWDS of mourners gathered at All Saints Church in Blackwell, Darlington, for the funeral of a popular and well-respected crime scene investigator.

David Johnson, from the town, died just days after his 56th birthday following treatment for health problems, leaving behind wife Sue and two daughters, Kathryn, 23 and Helen, 26.

He was a keen cyclist who had served with Durham Constabulary for almost 25-years and was described by friends and colleagues at the funeral service as 'a happy chappy with an infectious grin'.

Motorcycle outriders escorted Mr Johnson’s hearse to and from the church, driving past Darlington police station to enable officers to pay their respects.

Scores of police colleagues also attended the service which saw dozens of mourners standing in the aisles and at the back of the church.

In a moving tribute, Mrs Johnson described how the couple had celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary just three weeks before his death.

She said: “We have loved each other since we were 17,” adding that her husband was a “Mr Fix it” who doted on his two daughters.

Conducting the service, Rev Brian Holmes said he had known the Johnsons for more than 20 years and admitted that the family were among his favourites in his entire congregation.

Around a dozen cyclist friends of Mr Johnson followed the funeral cortege to the crematorium and his police colleagues have pledged to organise a bike ride this summer in his memory.